USWNT celebrates Rose Lavelle’s goal. (Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Network)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Still smarting from its embarrassing performance against Sweden, the U.S. women’s national team took out its anger and frustrations on its New Zealand counterparts Saturday.

The American women registered a 6-1 win at an empty Saitama Stadium in Saitama, Japan.

The victory lifted the USA to 1-1-0 and three points in the Group G standings while New Zealand dropped to 0-2-0. The USWNT moved into second place with a better goal differential than Australia (plus two to minus one). The Matildas (1-0-1, 3), who lost to Sweden earlier Saturday, 4-2, and the Americans play in the final group match Tuesday.

Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan and second-half substitutes Christen Press and Alex Morgan scored for the USWNT, which had a pair of own goals scored by New Zealand. Holding midfielder Julie Ertz, making her first start of these Summer Games, finished with two assists. Betsy Hassett tallied for the Football Ferns.

The USWNT also had four first-half goals called back by offside calls as First Lady Jill Biden attended the match.

Needing to rotate some of the lineup because of the closeness of the gaes, head coach Vlatko Andonovski made five changes to the Starting XI he deployed against Sweden. Carli Lloyd got the start over Morgan, Megan Rapinoe was in for Press, Ertz for Sam Mewis, Emily Sonnett for Kelley O’Hara, and Tierna Davidson for captain Becky Sauerbrunn.

The USA’s performance was night and day compared to their 3-0 defeat to Sweden. They controlled the match from the outset at an empty and slowly built their lead.

It should be noted that New Zealand is nowhere in the same class as Sweden and that it played as a team for the first time in 16 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in its 2-1 loss to Australia Wednesday.

While they had too many giveaways at midfield in the first half, the USA found the range in the ninthh minute. Tobin Heath set up Lavelle, who beat goalkeeper Anna Leat to the near right post.

Just before halftime, the USWNT doubled their lead off a Megan Rapinoe corner kick. Ertz kept the ball alive with a header to Horan, who slotted the ball home to punctuated her 100th international appearance.

A Carli Lloyd header led to the third goal in the 65th minute as Abby Erceg’s clearance traveled into her own net for an own goal.

A double mistake by Abby Dahlkemper led to the Football Ferns’ lone goal in the 72nd minute. Dahlkemper, who struggled in the first two matches, miskicked a clearance on the right flank before slipping in the penalty area. Hanna Wilkinson crossed the ball to Hassett, who had no problem beating goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher from point-blank range to close the gap to two goals.

Ertz continued to make her presence felt on attack as her right-wing feed set up second-half substitute Christen Press’ 14-yard score in the 80th minute for a 4-1 advantage.

Morgan added her sixth career Olympic goal in the 88th minute for a four-goal bulge.

The USA added an own goal to its score line as a Press shot hit a New Zealand defender and sailed into the net. On the ensuing  kickoff, the referee whistled the match over.