After this past summer's Tournament of Nations where the United States Women's National Team finished second in the inaugural tournament, the team regroups to take on New Zealand at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Friday's matchup will be the 15th meeting between the two teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 pm ET on ESPN2.
About New Zealand
New Zealand is currently ranked 19th in the FIFA World Rankings. The Football Ferns, as they are nicknamed, are the Oceania Football Champions (OFC), winning in 2014, their fifth OFC title. The OFC is the official qualifying tournament for the Women's World Cup. New Zealand has only played four matches in 2017 with their last competition in March in the Cyprus Cup. The Football Ferns finished ninth in the 12th team invitational tournament. They come to the U.S. with a 1-3-0 record for the year.
The Football Ferns are led by 41-year-old Tony Readings, who has been the head coach of the women's national team since 2011. Readings is a former semi-professional soccer player in New Zealand and in his native England. During the 2007 and 2011 Women's World Cups, Readings served as the assistant coach for the women's side as well as for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
NWSL fans will be familiar with several names on New Zealand's roster: Rosie White from the Boston Breakers, Katie Bowen from FC Kansas City, and Rebekah Stott from the Seattle Reign FC. All three have made major contributions to their NWSL clubs this season. White has scored four goals including one assist, Bowen has two goals and one assist, and Stott has assisted on one goal.
USWNT vs New Zealand History
The USWNT and New Zealand first met in 1987 where the Football Ferns earned a 1-0 victory. It is the only victory New Zealand has recorded over the USWNT. Since then, in their 14th meetings, the USWNT has dominated with 12 wins, including getting important victories in the three past Olympic games. In October of 2013, the two teams tied 1-1.
The last time both teams met was at the 2016 Rio Olympics in group play in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The USWNT won the opening game of their Rio experience 2-0 with goals from Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.
USWNT Roster Notes
Last week, Jill Ellis named the 22 players for these September friendlies, mixing the household names of veterans and calling in players that have stood out to her in their NWSL/college play.
- Kelley O'Hara has 99 international caps with the national team. Should she start or appear as a substitute, O'Hara will earn her 100th cap, making her the 36th female player in the U.S. to play 100 or more times for her country. O'Hara debuted with the national team in 2010.
- Sofia Huerta has been officially allowed by FIFA to switch associations from Mexico to the United States. Huerta is eligible to play for the USWNT for these friendlies. The 24-year-old earned five caps playing for Mexico.
- Several USWNT team players who missed previous games this year due to injuries return to the roster: midfielder Tobin Heath, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, and midfielder Morgan Brian.
- Co-captain Carli Lloyd will miss the September friendlies due to an ankle injury she suffered during NWSL play for the Houston Dash.
- Twelve players on the roster have less than 30 caps. Tierna Davidson (Standford University) has yet to earn a cap.