Perhaps fittingly, it was team captain Carli Lloyd who got the U.S. off on the right foot. Early pressure by the defending gold medalists kept the ball deep in New Zealand’s defensive half. Becky Sauerbrunn played the ball to Tobin Heath who drove to the top of the box and played a cross to the back right post where Lloyd was able to head home the match’s opening goal in the 9th minute.
While the U.S. maintained much of the possession throughout the first half, they were unable to find a second goal in the first 45 and went to the half with a one goal lead.
Just after the second half whistle, the United States would double its lead. Allie Long collected a New Zealand clearance in the center of the U.S. offensive half and played a sharp pass to Heath near the top left of the box. Heath cushioned the ball for Morgan Brian who hit a quick pass to Alex Morgan out on the left. The U.S. forward struck a left footed shot from a wide angle between the near left post and Ferns goalkeeper Erin Nayler for the game’s second and final score.
While Lloyd and Morgan provided the offense, the defensive quartet of Kelley O’Hara, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn and Meghan Klingenberg put in a strong performance to help the U.S. women earn its 14th shutout of 2016.
Huntington’s Long played the entire 90 minutes, while Rockville Centre’s Crystal Dunn entered the game in the 51st minute replacing Mallory Pugh.
The U.S. next plays France on Saturday in Belo Horizonte (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBC Universo).
Game notes via U.S. Soccer
- Carli Lloyd’s goal was the 89th of her career and seventh Olympic goal for the USA, pushing her to second all-time to Abby Wambach’s 10 Olympic tallies.
- Alex Morgan scored her fifth Olympic goal and 68th overall. The goal ties her with Mia Hamm and Tiffany Milbrett for third behind Lloyd and Wambach on the USA’s Olympic goals-scored list.
- The game marks the first Olympic starts for Mallory Pugh, Morgan Brian, Allie Long, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston and Meghan Klingenberg.
- Lloyd earned her 225th cap and 13th in the Olympics, tied with Solo for the most on the team. She is the most-capped player at the 2016 Olympic Football tournament.
- Pugh, who made her 15th appearance this year and 11th start has a team-leading seven assists. With tonight’s start she becomes the youngest American female player to start in an Olympic match.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 3, 2016