(CBS Local)- The USWNT’s Olympic journey got off to a rocky start with a 3-0 loss to Sweden in their opening match on Wednesday. It was the worst loss for the national team since a 3-0 defeat against France in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup. The team doesn’t have much time to find answers or dwell on the loss however as their next match, now almost a must win, sees the team take on New Zealand on Saturday morning.
As the team gears up for its second match of the tournament, here are five things fans should know about the opponent, New Zealand.
The USWNT has dominated the all-time series against New Zealand, winning 15 of the 17 meetings to this point for a 15-1-1 record. This is the fourth time the teams have met at the Olympic Games, with the U.S. scoring a 2-0 win in Rio and London and a 4-0 win in 2008 in Beijing.
The most recent meeting between the two came in May of 2019 with the U.S. posting a 5-0 victory as part of their send-off series ahead of the 2019 Women’s world Cup. Carli Lloyd tallied a pair of goals with Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis joining her in the scoring department.
Lloyd and Alex Morgan each have six career goals against the Football Ferns.
New Zealand’s head coach, Tom Sermanni spent a year and change in charge of the USWNT from January 2013 to April of 2014 recording a 18-2-4 record in that time. He also oversaw the first team debuts of multiple players on the current roster in Julie Ertz, Kristie and Samantha Mewis, Christen Press, Crystal Dunn and Lindsay Horan. There’s plenty of familiarity with the American roster from his time in charge of the NWSL’s Orlando Pride as well.
Three of the New Zealand players are currently on NWSL rosters as well in defenders Abby Erceg and Ali Riley along with midfielder Katie Bowen.
New Zealand Searching For Win As Well
New Zealand’s opening match resulted in a loss as well, coming up short against their regional rivals Australia 2-1. Though the score looks closer than the U.S.’ 3-0 defeat, the reality is Australia dominated the match. New Zealand was outshot 16-5, gave up more shots on goal 8-3, allowed more corners 10-1 and lost the possession battle 60-40.
The two Australia tallies came in the first half from Tameka Yallop (20′) and Samantha Kerr (33′) while New Zealand’s goal came in stoppage time of the second half from 20-year-old Gabi Rennie (90’+1).
New Zealand Olympic History
This is the fourth straight Olympics soccer tournament that New Zealand has qualified for. Their best result previously was in London in 2012 when they made it to the knockout stage by beating Cameroon 3-1. They have not made it past the group stage in any of their other three appearances.
USWNT Generally Doesn’t Suffer Back-To-Back Losses
The loss to Sweden was shocking both for the result and the fact that the U.S. was so thoroughly outplayed across the field as CBSSports.com’s Sandra Herrera noted. If there’s any good news to come out of the match, it would be that the USWNT doesn’t typically lose two matches in a row. The last time it happened was in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup when they dropped a 1-0 loss to England and a 3-0 loss to France.
Prior to that, you have to go back to the 2014 Algarve Cup when they lost to Sweden (1-0) and Denmark (5-3) in consecutive matches. It’s a predicament the U.S., particularly this group of players, hasn’t found themselves in often. Former striker Abby Wambach noted as much on Twitter following the Sweden result.
Last thing I would want to be right now is the next opponent of this team. Nobody puts baby in the corner. https://t.co/AVk0hi1oVt
— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) July 21, 2021
The U.S. and New Zealand kick off the second match of group play on Saturday, July 24 at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time on NBC Sports Network.