The United States Women’s National Team played its first game of 2023 down under, picking up a comfortable win over New Zealand, 4-0. The Football Ferns are co-hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup with Australia. Therefore, it was a sensible friendly for both involved.

Then, for much of the first half, New Zealand did well to contain a heavily favored USWNT. A scoreless first 45 likely frustrated manager Vlatko Andonovski, who then made four substitutions up and down the pitch. The result paid off immediately.

Mallory Swanson opened the scoring with one of the halftime substitutes, Trinity Rodman, providing the cross. It was Swanson’s 26th goal in the red, white and blue. However, it was her first under her married name. She scored the previous 25 as a perhaps more familiar Mallory Pugh.

Alex Morgan put the game to bed not long after. In the 60th minute, Rose Lavelle played a backheel pass into the box for Morgan, who lashed the ball to the far post to beat New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler.

Swanson went ahead and picked up her brace just two minutes after Morgan’s goal. The Chicago Red Stars forward was through on goal, dribbled around Nayler, and tucked the ball away. Then, the USWNT added a fourth as Lynn Williams scored off another Trinity Rodman cross.

USWNT starts big 2023 off with win over New Zealand

While New Zealand is hopeful to make noise at its own World Cup, it is not exactly the powerhouse among the favorites to win that World Cup. If you put any stock in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, New Zealand is 24th, while the USWNT is top. Comparing that to the men’s list, that is Brazil against Iran.

However, this game, as well as the next friendly also against New Zealand, provide opportunities to those looking to break into Andonovski’s side.

For example, Trinity Rodman picked up a pair of assists, her first assists with the USWNT. Taylor Kornieck made her first career start for the side, even if it was her sixth cap overall.

Also, for the broadcasting side, this was HBO Max’s first game of its new deal with US Soccer. The next game for the USWNT, set for Friday night, is airing on TNT.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo