U.S. women cruise past New Zealand
SAN FRANCISCO -- Megan Rapinoe got into the flow of things quickly. She arrived from France on Tuesday, got in a couple of training sessions and went right to work.
Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Heather O'Reilly scored to help the U.S. women's soccer team beat New Zealand 4-1 in an exhibition game Sunday at Candlestick Park.
"It's worse having to go back," Rapinoe said. "Coming here wasn't bad."
Hannah Wilkinson, a junior at Tennessee, scored for New Zealand.
"The first 10 or 15 minutes we looked quite shaky," New Zealand coach Tony Readings said. "The U.S. is a step up and it took a while to get up to speed."
The Americans improved to 12-0-2 this year. They extended their overall unbeaten streak to 37 games and their home unbeaten streak to 75, a stretch that dates to 2004.
"In the second half we got out of our rhythm and allowed New Zealand to dictate," U.S. coach Tom Sermanni said. "It was a tough fight in the second half."
Hope Solo had a pair of saves in the first half, including a 1-on-1 with Wilkinson. Nicole Barnhart was in the net for the second half.
Rapinoe opened the scoring in the seventh minute, converting a free kick from just outside the penalty box that she directed into the upper left corner.
"I was trying to lift it up and over the wall," she said. "It's always hard for the keeper to see. It was well placed. I don't know that I do that again."
Rapinoe, selected the player of the match, scored her 23rd career goal.
Lloyd created her own scoring opportunity in the 12th minute, stealing the ball from a defender and dribbling it into the box. She beat goalkeeper Erin Naylor to the near corner.
Lloyd scored in consecutive games for the first time this season. She has 46 goals to break a tie with Julie Foudy for the career U.S. lead among players who have played exclusively in the midfield.
Press scored in the 42nd minute, executing a give-and-go with O'Reilly just outside the box. She kicked it low and hard to the far post for her eighth goal in 11 games.
"She's just a great goal scorer," Sermanni said. "I've watched her play and she gets into good scoring position and just keeps scoring."
The U.S. messed up a clear at the top of the box and Wilkinson was there to take advantage. Her short-range shot was blocked by Barnhart, but bounced directly back to her. She didn't miss the second try.
"That's the kind of thing that makes these games so valuable," Sermanni said. "These games are not meaningless. It's good for us to play these games."
O'Reilly scored in the 87th minute on a nice turnaround shot.
The U.S. women played their first game in San Francisco since the inception of the program in 1985.
U.S. forward Alex Morgan injured her ankle during a training session last week and was unable to play. Midfielder Tobin Heath (foot) and defender Kelley O'Hara (ankle surgery) also were out.
The Americans are in the midst of three games in 10 days. They beat Australia 4-0 in San Antonio on Oct. 20 and will play New Zealand again in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday night.