For the second time in four days, the United States women's national soccer team outclassed New Zealand in a friendly on Friday night.
Playing in Auckland, New Zealand, the USWNT exploded in a 5-0 win, bettering the 4-0 victory it earned three days earlier in New Zealand's capital city of Wellington.
Every player on the pitch contributed to the winning effort, but Rose Lavelle and Mallory Swanson stood out, as Lavelle recorded two goals and one assist, while Swanson scored for the third time in four days:
U.S. Women's National Soccer Team @USWNT
A beauty of a ball from <a href="https://twitter.com/schuerta?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@schuerta</a> finds <a href="https://twitter.com/roselavelle?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@roselavelle</a> to make it 2-0 🇺🇸 <a href="https://t.co/FnB83NRT20">pic.twitter.com/FnB83NRT20</a>
Team USA was praised across Twitter for Friday's dominant performance, especially in terms of how all of the pieces seemed to fit together:
Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf
FULL TIME:<br><br>New Zealand 0<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USWNT</a> 5<br><br>The score + NZ's absences less important here than what the US needed to work on internally. Combination play in those 'subgroups' was much sharper, better line-breaking ability than the other day.
Brendan Ploen @BrendanPloen
FULL TIME: USWNT 5, New Zealand 0.<br>Couldn't ask for a better second game from the U.S.<br><br>A <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ColoradoSoccer?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ColoradoSoccer</a> update: Mallory Swanson has three goals to start 2023, while Lindsey Horan played in the first game.<br>Six months until the start of the World Cup in NZ & AUS.
There were also plenty of mentions of Swanson and Lavelle, who have both helped the USWNT get off to an ideal start in 2023:
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Friday's match for the U.S. is that it was a strong, consistent effort throughout.
The Americans broke through with a goal in the 22nd minute, led 2-0 at halftime and went on to score in the 53rd, 74th and 80th minutes, meaning they never took their foot off the accelerator.
After the team lost three friendlies in a row to England, Spain and Germany in October and November, there was some concern about the rest of the world potentially closing the gap and even surpassing the U.S.
The Americans got back on track with a 2-1 win over Germany on Nov. 13, however, and they have been firing on all cylinders in their past two matches, albeit against a lower level of competition.
The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand in July and August, though, meaning the United States got a taste of what it can potentially expect during the summer.
The USWNT has won each of the past two Women's World Cups and is looking to become the first team to make it three in a row. There is plenty of time for preparation before then, but the past two wins have to be considered an encouraging sign for USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski.