The United States women’s soccer team returned to its usual winning ways Saturday, notching a 6-1 victory against New Zealand in the Americans’ second group stage match at the Tokyo Olympics.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovki will hope it’s the start of a new winning streak after the USWNT’s 44-match unbeaten run was broken in sobering fashion with a 3-0 loss to Sweden in the Olympics opener.
Andonovski made five changes to his lineup for the meeting with the White Ferns, primarily to rest some of the squad’s veteran players for the three-day turn-around, but also likely to shake things up following the loss.
New Zealand attempted to take the fight to the World Cup champions early, drawing Alyssa Naeher into a save in the seventh minute.
Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle quickly put an end to all that. Playing direct out of the back, a Naeher goal kick found its way eventually to Heath with Lavelle committing to a dangerous run from midfield. Heath’s pass split the New Zealand defense and found Lavelle in front of goal.
Lavelle put her laces through the ball and slotted it in near-post past New Zealand goalkeeper Anna Leat for Team USA’s first goal of the Tokyo Olympics.
The U.S. hit the back of New Zealand’s net once more inside 15 minutes, but Carli Lloyd – getting the start at striker ahead of Alex Morgan – was ruled offside on her headed effort. Crystal Dunn met a similar fate on a would-be assist to Tobin Heath in the 28th minute. Megan…