WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Mallory Swanson scored twice and the U.S. women’s national team opened the year with a 4-0 victory over host New Zealand on Wednesday.
After a scoreless first half, Swanson scored on a header off a cross from Trinity Rodman in the 52nd minute before Alex Morgan added a second goal in the 60th.
Swanson’s second goal came some three minutes later and Lynn Williams had another in the 74th. Formerly Mallory Pugh, Swanson took Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson’s last name when the pair married in December.
“I think that ultimately I just want to be a positive impact on this team and my job is to score goals and try and set people up to score goals,” Swanson said. “I think that just going over my performance from the past couple of months and kind of reviewing it this offseason, there were some easy chances in games previous I should have put away.”
The match at Sky Stadium was the first of two games between the teams. Both are preparing for this summer’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The crowd was announced at 12,508, a record for the Ferns.
The second game is set for Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland. The games are the first for the Americans in the island nation.
The teams have met 20 times overall, with the United States dominating the series 18-1-1. New Zealand is captained by Ali Riley, who plays for Angel City in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The Americans had an uncharacteristically shaky end to 2022, with losses in three of their last four games. And they got off to a slow start against the Ferns.
Lindsey Horan was wide open in front of the net for a shot in the 18th that was stopped by sliding New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Naylor. Midge Purce’s shot from distance in the 28th caromed off the far post.
Soon after her second goal, Swanson was subbed off for Williams, who hadn’t played for the national team for 11 months because of a hamstring injury that required surgery.
“It feels amazing, but I give it to my teammates. They’ve been there with me through the whole way, and supporting me and being like `You got this Lynn.′ And so it feels incredible,” Williams said.
The United States was without 2022 Player of the Year Sophia Smith because of a minor foot injury. Megan Rapinoe also didn’t travel with the team because of an ankle injury.
It was the national team’s first match on HBO Max, U.S. Soccer’s new broadcast partner along with TNT and TBS.
The World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, kicks off July 20. The title match will be played Aug. 20 in Sydney. The United States has won back-to-back World Cups and will vie for a record third.