Rio Olympics 2016: Lloyd, Morgan score as USWNT beats New Zealand
It wasn't convincing, but it was enough for the reigning World Cup champs
The United States women's national team got its Summer Olympics campaign off on the right foot with a 2-0 victory against New Zealand in its first group-stage match on Wednesday. Carli Lloyd scored in the first half and Alex Morgan scored in the second half to help the USWNT remain unbeaten in 2016.
Only a year after winning the World Cup, the Americans entered the competition as the heavy favorites but didn't look the part for most of the match. The team recorded only three shots on target in the opening 45 minutes. While the attacking flair wasn't there, the U.S. didn't allow New Zealand to do anything in attack, closing well and passing smartly out of the back.
But the opening minutes did see the U.S. start well, and it was Lloyd who headed home beautifully after a lovely job by Tobin Heath to beat defenders and curl a ball home in the ninth minute. Take a look.
The U.S., for the rest of the first half, really left much to be desired. The passing in the final third just wasn't there, and New Zealand entered the second half with life. Life that Morgan would put to rest quickly.
The superstar attacker scored 40 seconds into the second half with a low strike toward the front post, surprising goalkeeper Erin Nayler and making it 2-0. New Zealand never recovered, and the U.S. dominated possession the rest of the way to secure the result.
With the win, the U.S. has three points and will return to action on Saturday against France.
You can relive the match with our live blog below.
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What's at stake: Three points to kick off the competition.
A fine 2016: The USWNT enters the match unbeaten in 2016, winning 14 times and drawing just once. 13 of the matches have been shutouts.
Rankings: The United States is ranked No. 1 in the world and has continued to dominate since its World Cup glory of a year ago. New Zealand is ranked No. 17 in the world and has never been higher than No. 16.
Tell me about New Zealand: New Zealand is a team that has had a very nice last 10 years or so, making every World Cup since 2007 and then making the quarterfinals of the last Olympic Games. Some of the players play in the United States, but you have to keep an eye on Amber Hearn, who plays in Europe. The 31-year-old forward is a fine goal scorer and very physical. In fact, she is the best in the nation's history with 50 international goals.
The US. will win if: It plays decently. The quality of this team is matched by maybe one in the world, and that team is not New Zealand, it's Germany.
The U.S. will lose if: It scores four own goals. It's really difficult to envision anything but three points here for the U.S. Sure, at times the best of teams just can't score, but the U.S. has averaged 3.3 goals per game over its last six friendlies, playing quality competition like Japan in the process.
Anything but a win for USWNT would be more shocking than: The series finale of 'The Sopranos.'
Prediction: USA 5, New Zealand 0. Let's be realistic, a loss where it doesn't avoid a blowout would be a good result for New Zealand when you consider two of the three third place teams in the competition go through.
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