On Sunday night, the United States women's national team defeated New Zealand 4-1 on the strength of goals by Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Heather O'Reilly.
The game was the second friendly of a four-game set for the USWNT, which also included a win over Australia last week and will include two more games—another against New Zealand on Wednesday and a game against Brazil on November 10.
Here are three things we learned from the U.S. win.
Bring on Brazil!
While there were a few moments that the U.S. (devoid of Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and limited minutes for Christie Rampone, Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux) did look mortal, overall, this game revealed little.
New Zealand is ranked 19th in the world and, no disrespect to them, are not good enough to challenge the U.S. in the same way that teams like France, Germany, Japan and Brazil will.
Other than Ali Riley, there is no one on the Ferns who can compete with the level of quality the U.S. possesses, even among the U.S. reserve players.
The U.S. needs to be playing against top competition if new coach Tom Sermanni is going to learn anything about his squad and what changes need to be made.
Ali Krieger’s Performance Was a Mixed Bag
There’s no doubt that the U.S. missed Ali Krieger in the 2012 Olympic tournament after she suffered an ACL injury during qualifying.
However, on Sunday night, despite the fact that Krieger has been back playing for over a year, she looked rusty.
She was caught in possession on a number of occasions (several of them dangerous giveaways in the middle third), her touch did not look sharp and she contributed little to the offense.
The one big positive of Krieger’s play was her weak-side awareness.
On several occasions, New Zealand played dangerous balls across the field to the weak side, but Krieger was excellently positioned each time to snuff out the attack.
Christen Press Struggled to Make Her Case
Christen Press has enjoyed a dynamo year in 2013, bursting onto the USWNT scene with seven goals and scoring 23 goals for her club, Tyreso, this season.
On any other team, Press would be an automatic starter, but with the U.S., she has to compete with Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux.
Press didn’t play poorly—she scored a goal and linked up play well—but she also didn’t terrorize the Ferns defense in the same way that Morgan, Leroux and Wambach do as a matter of routine.
She wasted a number of chances, and if she’s going to find playing time in the crowded U.S. front line, she needs to be better.
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