The U.S. women's soccer team cruised to a 4-1 victory over New Zealand at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on Sunday.
Megan Rapinoe started the scoring with a free-kick goal in the seventh minute, and Carli Lloyd added her 46th career international goal soon after. Christen Press, who was making her first career international start, gave the U.S. a 3-0 lead in the 42nd minute.
New Zealand got on the board thanks to a Hannah Wilkinson goal in the 54th, but it wasn't nearly enough for the Kiwis.
After a back-and-forth final 30 minutes, Heather O'Reilly capped off the scoring with a gorgeous, curling shot in the 88th minute.
With the win, the United States women have now won 37 straight games overall and 75 straight at home. The two teams will play each other in another international friendly Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.
American superstar Alex Morgan did not play Sunday. Keeper Hope Solo played in just the first half.
Megan Rapinoe: A
With Morgan out, Rapinoe picked up the slack offensively.
She kicked off the Americans' scoring frenzy with her beautiful free kick, and she continued to put pressure on the New Zealand defense as the game progressed.
With her aggression and creativity, Rapinoe showed why she is one of the best midfielders in the world. If the 28-year-old continues her strong play, the Americans will be unbeatable going forward.
Nicole Barnhart: C-
Hope Solo's backup struggled in her second-half stint, allowing a goal just minutes after checking into the game.
Barnhart initially kick-saved a Hannah Wilkinson shot, but the ball bounced right back to the New Zealander, who promptly fired it into the net. Granted, the goal wasn't completely Barnhart's fault (her back line did a poor job of clearing the ball), but it's not encouraging to see her give up a goal in such limited action.
The 32-year-old will have to do better in the future for the U.S to beat teams like Germany, Japan and Brazil.
New Zealand: C+
New Zealand was crushed, but you have to give them credit for their aggression and competitiveness throughout the game.
Although it was clear coming in that the U.S. would have the upper hand, the Kiwis fought tooth and nail. Wilkinson provided them with a well-deserved goal early in the second half, and if it weren't for an incredible goal by O'Reilly in the 88th, the final result would look much better.
If New Zealand can learn from this match and improve when they face the U.S. again Wednesday, they will be in a good position heading into World Cup qualifying.
As the official Twitter account for the U.S. women's national team pointed out, these two teams made history simply by stepping on the field:
Once the action got underway, Carli Lloyd made some history of her own. Hat tip to the USWNT feed again:
That goal was the 46th of Carli Lloyd's international career...— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) October 27, 2013
She becomes the highest scoring player in U.S. history to play exclusively midfield, passing Julie Foudy, who finished with 45 goals.— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) October 27, 2013
As soccer fan Sarah Smith said, Heather Ann O'Reilly's blast in the 88th minute was quite impressive:
HOT DAMN HAO. Wow. That shot was absurd. I sure hope the highlights are of better quality than the live stream because that... DAMN #USAvNZL— Sarah Smith (@SMSmith53) October 28, 2013
Unfortunately, as Smith and Peninsula Gateway reporter Karen E. Miller mentioned, the live stream for the game was a bit blurry:
Let's hope the feed is a bit better Wednesday when the U.S. women look to extend their massive unbeaten streaks.