1. Julie Ertz vs. Korea Republic (International Friendly; Oct. 19): Something everyone can agree on is that Julie Ertz was dangerous in the penalty area this year. All six of her goals came from set pieces, but her goal against Korea Republic on Oct. 19 had a little extra mustard on it as Ertz nutmegged the goalkeeper with a diving header. The goal came off a well-struck corner kick by Megan Rapinoe from the left side that flew towards the near post. The diving Ertz sent a low, skidding header through the legs of the goalkeeper. The celebration afterwards was equally as fun.
2. Megan Rapinoe vs. Brazil (Tournament of Nations; July 30): She had just assisted Christen Press on the goal that ignited the comeback, making the score 3-2 in favor of Brazil, but then Rapinoe took the reins, scoring one of the best goals of her career to tie the game, 3-3. She settled a well-placed lofted pass from Press with a perfect touch inside the penalty area and then, with Brazil goalkeeper Barbara cheating ever so slightly for the cross, blasted her shot from a stiff angle so hard towards the near post that Barbara couldn’t react in time. Her reaction and the reaction of her teammates (as well as the pumped-up crowd inside Qualcomm Stadium) showed just how big a goal it was.
3. Alex Morgan vs. New Zealand (International Friendly; Sept. 15): This was another beauty from Alex Morgan. Sofia Huerta, playing in her first cap, sent a long cross from the right wing into the left side of the box, where Morgan brought it down with her left foot, evaded a closing defender and then ripped her shot into the roof of the net for her second goal of the year. It was vintage Morgan.
4. Megan Rapinoe vs. Japan (Tournament of Nations; Aug. 3): Breaking ankles inside of the six-yard box is how Megan Rapinoe added her name to the scoring sheet. The goal came when Christen Press found space between two defenders to slip a beautiful pass to Rapinoe, who was cutting into the right side of the penalty box. Rapinoe latched onto the pass, faked a shot to force the Japanese defender into a slide and then hesitated long enough for the defender to move out of the way as she got to her feet. Rapinoe then had enough space to slot her shot into the lower left corner from close range. The goal was worthy of a classic Rapinoe celebration, and that’s exactly what she gave to the fans.
5. Christen Press vs. Korea Republic (International Friendly; Oct. 22): This much we know: Press can be lethal shooting from outside the 18-yard box. On a nice U.S. build-up through the midfield, Alex Morgan found Press with a threaded pass near the top of the penalty area. She squared up on a defender, made space for a shot with a quick move to her right and whipped the ball brilliantly into the upper right corner for her third goal of 2017.
6. Julie Ertz vs. Brazil (Tournament of Nations, July 30): After two goals in five minutes brought the USA back to life against Brazil, the game was now tied 3-3 at the 85-minute mark. Ertz completed the incredible comeback with her game-winning goal in the 89th. Rapinoe was once again involved in the goal, playing Kelley O’Hara down the right side on the overlap. O’Hara’s cross bounced off the sliding Carli Lloyd and back to Ertz, who blasted the loose ball into the back of the net from six yards out for the victory. It was Ertz’ first goal of 2017…. but it wouldn’t be her last.
7. Christen Press vs. Brazil (Tournament of Nations, July 30): After Brazil made it 3-1 in the 78th minute on well-placed free-kick goal, ESPN commentator Ian Darke was understandably gloomy about the USA’s prospects. “The U.S., surely sunk here….”, said Darke, but then something amazing happened. The USA scored three goals in nine minutes, starting with this Christen Press rocket. Megan Rapinoe slipped a perfectly weighted pass into the left side of the penalty box for Press, who collected, spun toward goal and smacked a right-footed shot into the upper left corner from 14 yards away to make it 3-2.
8. Alex Morgan vs. Canada (International Friendly; Nov. 9): Of her team-leading seven goals this year, one of Morgan’s best came against a familiar opponent: Canada. The play began when Casey Short did well to take advantage of some poor clearances by Canada and headed the ball back into the mixer. Morgan kept a U.S. attack alive by bravely heading the bouncing ball past a defender and then drilling a half-volley with her right foot between three Canada defenders. The shot bounced hard past the outstretched arm of Stephanie Labbé and into the lower right corner for a timely and stylish finish.
9. Allie Long vs. Russia (International Friendly; April 6): In classic Allie Long fashion, she scored on a header in the 70th minute (her second of the night) after Mallory Pugh crossed into the middle of the six-yard box. Long beat a pair of players with a powerful falling header for her fifth career goal (all of which had come on headers, although she did go on to score her sixth with her foot on Oct. 22) and her second multi-goal game for the USA, which coincidentally enough came exactly a year after her first (April 6, 2016, against Colombia in East Hartford, Connecticut).
10. Mallory Pugh vs. Japan (Tournament of Nations; Aug. 3): Pugh hadn’t scored for the WNT so far in 2017, and after suffering an injury during warmups on June 11 in Norway, she made her return to game action in the Tournament of Nations. Against Japan in the 60th minute, Pugh received a perfect ball from Taylor Smith and swiftly ran into the box, charging at the ‘keeper all alone before calmly finishing with a low shot. The classy finish by the 19-year-old showcased her decision-making as well as her growth over the last year.Read more
On Sept. 14, FIFA approved a change of national association for Sofia Huerta, making her eligible to represent the United States at the international level. Huerta had previously represented Mexico at the youth and senior levels. The very next day, Huerta made her U.S. WNT debut, coming on in the 51st minute of the match against New Zealand in place of Taylor Smith. Here are five things you should know about the newest member of the U.S. WNT player pool:
The Gem State
Sofia Huerta was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, making her the first player from the state of Idaho to earn a cap with the USA.
Huerta grew up as the youngest of three children, with her sister Andrea (six years older), and brother Alex (four years older) and their parents Jody, a Wisconsin native, and Mauricio, who was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico.
“I lived in Boise until I left for Santa Clara in 2011,” said Huerta. “Boise is such a beautiful place. It’s outdoorsy, people are very active and everyone is really nice. I try to go back whenever I get a chance. My parents still live there.”
A Love for the Ages
While Huerta’s childhood may seem relatively normal and All-American, Huerta’s parents story is a fascinating one, and one that the 24-year-old is very proud of and loves to share.
"My mom was born and raised in Wisconsin and went to the University of Wisconsin,” said Huerta. “My dad, who was born in Mexico and was in an engineering program in Puebla, was selected as one of four people who earned a spot to go study in the engineering program at the University of Wisconsin during his junior year and that’s where my parents met. After that one year, my dad returned home but my parents kept in touch and stayed together, and then four years later after my mom was all done with school, she got a pretty cool graduation ticket from her parents – a one way trip to Mexico. And they’ve been together ever since. It’s crazy to hear my parents talk about their early years together. Sometimes I don’t believe some of the stories they tell!”Read more
The U.S. Women’s National Team wrapped up an entertaining and successful week as it defeated New Zealand with a combined score of 8-1 in a two-game set of friendlies on Sept. 15 in Commerce City, Colorado and on Sept. 19 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
With a week of trainings, hotel stays, traveling and two productive match days, the U.S. WNT took to social media to share some of the best moments of camp life, connect with fans and shed a light on just what goes on during a WNT camp.
Below we highlight the best social media moments of the week:
Once the entire squad made its way into Denver, it was time to hit the weight room and get things started in the Mile High City.
The first few days of camp were special for both Lindsey Horan (Golden) and Mallory Pugh (Highlands Ranch), who both hail from the Denver area.
But it wasn’t only just Horan and Pugh that were basking in the joy of being home, as almost the entire WNT roster “took over” with banners hanging downtown all along 16th Street Mall, making Denver the official home of the WNT for a few days.
You + Us + 16th Street Mall.— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) September 13, 2017
Denver, we've taken over.🚏 pic.twitter.com/guvObYyjDq
The U.S. Women’s National Team will take on New Zealand twice in a pair of friendlies this fall on Sept. 15 (8 p.m. MT; ESPN2) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, and on Sept. 19 (7:30 p.m. ET; FS1) at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here are five things to know about the Football Ferns:
New Zealand Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 23-Victoria Esson (North Shore United), 21-Anna Leat (Glenfield Rovers), 1-Erin Nayler (Girondins Bordeaux, France)
DEFENDERS (7): 25-Elizabeth Anton (Western Springs), 4-CJ Bott (USV Jena, Germany), 3-Anna Green (Reading, England), 5-Meikayla Moore (Norwest United), 2-Ria Percival (FC Basel, Switzerland), 7-Ali Riley (FC Rosengard, Sweden), 6-Rebekah Stott (Seattle Reign, USA)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 10-Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical), 12-Betsy Hassett (KR Reykjavik, Iceland), 14-Katie Bowen (FC Kansas City, USA), 16-Olivia Chance (Everton, England), 8-Daisy Cleverley (UC Berkeley, USA), 20-Malia Steinmetz (Forrest Hill Milford United), 11-Kirsty Yallop (Klepp IL, Norway)
FORWARDS (6): 26-Jane Barnett (Norwest United), 18-Aimee Phillips (Eastern Suburbs), 15-Martine Puketapu (University of Colorado, USA), 22-Katie Rood (Juventus, Italy), 13-Rosie White (Boston Breakers, USA), 17-Hannah Wilkinson (Vittsjo GIK, Sweden)
New Zealand is the current OFC (Oceania Football Championship) Champion. Of the 10 confederation championships that have been held, New Zealand has won five, including the most recent one in 2014, played in Papua New Guinea.
The competition has served as a qualifying tournament for the FIFA Women's World Cup since 1991, and will once again take place in 2018 as the teams aim for qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
New Zealand has numerous ties to the USA. It has four players featuring for NWSL clubs, but as former captain and North Carolina Courage defender Abby Erceg retired from the National Team earlier this year, three players on the New Zealand’s roster that will face the USA are currently playing in the league: Rosie White (Boston Breakers), Katie Bowen (FC Kansas City), and Rebekah Stott (Seattle Reign). White has four goals and one assist for the Breakers so far this year while Bowen has two goals and one assist and Stott has picked up one assist from the back.
Veteran Ali Riley, now the Ferns captain, played at Stanford and grew up in Los Angeles. She currently plays in Sweden with FC Rosengard and comes into the match with 109 caps. Riley played in the WPS with the Bay Area FC Gold Pride and the Western New York Flash, winning league titles in both seasons. She was the WPS Rookie of the Year in 2010 with the Gold Pride. Forward Hannah Wilkinson played at Tennessee, where she scored 33 goals with 19 assists in in 68 career matches. She currently plays for Vittsjo GIK in Sweden. Forward Rosie White played with Samantha Mewis at UCLA. Despite being just 24 years old, she has played 88 times for New Zealand and scored 17 goals.
Additionally, two players currently play for American colleges: midfielder Daisy Cleverly at UC Berkeley and forward Martine Puketapu at the University of Colorado. Cleverly was an alternate at the 2016 Summer Olympics and was on the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. She played for the New Zealand at both the 2014 and 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cups and scored for the Football Ferns at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
FC Kansas City and New Zealand international, Katie Bowen.
The WNT has shutout New Zealand twice in its two last meetings. On April 4, 2015, the USA defeated the Football Ferns, 4-0 with goals from Lori Chalupny, Morgan Brian, Meghan Klingenberg and Julie Ertz in St. Louis, Missouri. Most recently, the U.S. played New Zealand on Aug. 3, 2016 in the opening game of Group G at the 2016 Olympic Games in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The USA won the match 2-0 with goals from Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. At the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, New Zealand lost just one match, that by a 1-0 score to eventual 2017 European Champion Netherlands, then drew Canada 0-0 and China PR 2-2, but the two points were not enough to earn quarterfinal qualification.
New Zealand head coach, 41-year-old Tony Readings, is a former semi-professional footballer in both New Zealand and his native England and has overseen the Football Ferns since 2011. Readings boasts extensive experience with New Zealand women’s football, having been an assistant coach during the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cups, as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He also coached the New Zealand U-20 side and, as senior coach, has since added London 2012, the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics to a lengthy resume.
Tony Readings has been New Zealand's head coach since 2011.
The USA has played New Zealand in the last three Olympics Games. In 2012, it was USA vs. New Zealand in the quarterfinal of the London Olympics in Newcastle, England, a 2-0 victory in which Abby Wambach scored early and Sydney Leroux added a late goal to send the Americans to the semifinal. The U.S. also played New Zealand at the 2008 Olympics, earning a 4-0 victory during group play to advance to the quarterfinals. Heather O’Reilly scored a goal 40 seconds into the match. O’Reilly’s goal is still the fastest in Olympic history. The teams once again played in 2016 in Brazil, this time in the tournament’s opening game for each side, with the USA taking the 2-0 win.