Julie Ertz celebrates her second goal of the first half. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Julie Ertz scored twice in the first half and Alex Morgan added a goal to lead the U.S. women to a 3-1 victory over New Zealand in an international friendly before a near capacity crowd of 17,301 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Friday night.
Veteran defender Kelley O’Hara, who plays for Sky Blue FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, captained the side in her 100th cap.
Playing as a defensive midfielder, Ertz struck within an eight-minute span to lift the American into a 2-0 lead.
In the 16th minute, New Zealand cleared a corner kick to the U.S.’s Abby Dahlkemper, who played a short pass to O’Hara. The defender sent a looping pass to the far post where Lindsey Horan headed it down towards the middle of the six-yard box. Ertz finished with a right-footed strike from close range for the 10th goal of her career.
Ertz did not have to wait very long for No. 11. The hosts put together a 15-passes that culminated in right back Taylor Smith playing Mallory Pugh through to the right end line. Pugh’s cross found Megan Rapinoe at the far post as her header hit the left post. The ball bounced back into the middle where the crashing Ertz smashed the rebound into the middle of the net off the half-volley to earn her brace for a 2-0 advantage in the 24th minute.
New Zealand cut the lead in the 75th minute when Hannah Wilkinson beat goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to a ball in the box and headed home. Wilkinson has scored New Zealand’s last four goals against the U.S. Four minutes later, Morgan returned the two-goal lead, scoring her second goal of the year and her 75th career goal from a Sofia Huerta assist.
Huerta earned her first cap when she was subbed into the match for Taylor Smith in the 51st minute. She is the first player from the state of Idaho to earn a cap for the USWNT. Huerta became eligible to play for the U.S. Thurdayday after receiving word that FIFA had approved her change of national association after she had represented Mexico at the youth and senior levels.
The USA will head to Cincinnati, Ohio, hometown of WNT midfielder Rose Lavelle, for its second match of the two-game series against New Zealand at Nippert Stadium Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS1).
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. New Zealand
Date: Sept. 15, 2017
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. MT
Weather: 73 degrees; partly cloudy
USA – Julie Ertz (Lindsey Horan) 16th minute
USA – Julie Ertz 24
NZL – Hannah Wilkinson (Ali Riley) 75
USA – Alex Morgan (Sofia Huerta) 79
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 22-Taylor Smith (11-Sofia Huerta, 51), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 5-Kelley O’Hara (capt.) (14-Casey Short, 77); 8-Julie Ertz, 3-Samantha Mewis (20-Allie Long, 60), 9-Lindsey Horan (6-Morgan Brian, 74); 2-Mallory Pugh (19-Crystal Dunn, 60), 13-Alex Morgan, 15-Megan Rapinoe (23-Christen Press, 60)
Substitutes: 18-Jane Campbell
Head coach: Jill Ellis
NZL: 1-Erin Nayler; 2-Ria Percival, 5-Meikayla Moore, 6-Rebekah Stott, 7-Ali Riley (capt.); 13-Rosie White (18-Aimee Phillips, 87), 10-Annalie Longo, 11-Kirsty Yallop (16-Olivia Chance, 84), 12-Betsy Hassett, 14-Katie Bowen; 17-Hannah Wilkinson
Substitutes: 21-Anna Leat 23-Victoria Esson, 3-Anna Green, 4-Cj Bott, 8-Daisy Cleverley, 20-Malia Steinmetz, 22-Katie Rood, 25-Liz Anton, 26-Jane Barnett
Head coach: Tony Readings
Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots: 14 / 5
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 7 / 3
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 0 / 1
NZL – Annalie Longo (caution) 46th minute
Referee: Katja Koroleva (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Deleana Quan (USA)
4th Official: Karen Abt (USA)
Woman of the Match: Julie Ertz