The Football Ferns has been a frequent opponent for the USA at the Olympics. This marks the fourth consecutive Olympic Games in which the teams will square off and their third just meeting in the group stage.
Learn more about the series and Saturday’s opponent with Five Things to Know about New Zealand.
LAST TIME OUT
New Zealand opened the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a 2-1 defeat to Australia on Wednesday evening at Tokyo Stadium. The Matildas got on the scoresheet midway through the first half, with a 20th-minute goal by Tameka Yallop and doubled their advantage in the 33rd when Sam Kerr headed in a corner kick from Steph Catley.
Twenty-year-old Gabi Rennie came on in the 89th minute to make her international debut and scored New Zealand’s lone goal in the 91st minute, flicking a header into the bottom corner on her first touch of the game.
Australia outshot New Zealand, 16-5, on the night and held a 10-1 advantage on corner kicks.
INSIDE THE ROSTER
The Football Ferns’ 22-player roster for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a blend of experience and fresh faces on the international scene. Five players on the roster have over 100 caps, led by midfielder Ria Pervical, New Zealand’s all-time caps leader with 151 international appearances. Defenders Abby Erceg (142 caps) and Ali Riley (135), and midfielders Annalie Longo (123) and Betsy Hassett (120) also bring extensive international experience to head coach Tom Sermanni’s squad. Erceg, Riley and Pervical are making their fourth trip to the Olympics while Tokyo marks the third Olympics for both Hassett and Longo.
Back for her third Olympics, 29-year-old striker Hannah Wilkinson is the top scorer on the Football Ferns’ roster with 26 career international goals in 98 caps.
On the other end of the spectrum, nine of New Zealand’s 22 players on the Olympic roster have 10 caps or fewer, including 24-year-old Michaela Robertson and 19-year-old Marisa van der Meer, who have yet to make their senior national team debuts.
NEW ZEALAND WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 22-Victoria Esson (Avaldsnes IL, NOR), 18-Anna Leat (East Coast Bays AFC), 1-Erin Nayler (Unattached)
DEFENDERS (8): 19-Elizabeth Anton (Unattached), 8-CJ Bott (Vålerenga IF, NOR), 8-Claudia Bunge (Melbourne Victory, AUS), 8-Abby Erceg (North Carolina Courage, USA), 3-Anna Green (Lower Hutt City AFC), 5-Meikayla Moore (Liverpool, ENG), 7-Ali Riley (Orlando Pride, USA), 20-Marisa van der Meer (Unattached)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 14-Katie Bowen (Kansas City, USA), 15-Daisy Cleverley (Georgetown University, USA), 12-Betsy Hassett (UMF Stjarnan, ISL), 10-Annalie Longo (Melbourne Victory, AUS), 2-Ria Percival (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), 16-Emma Rolston (Arna-Bjornar, NOR)
FORWARDS (5): 11-Olivia Chance (Brisbane Roar FC, AUS), 9-Gabi Rennie (Indiana University, USA), 21-Michaela Robertston (Lower Hutt City AFC), 13-Paige Satchell (Unattached), 17-Hannah Wilkinson (Unattached)
SERIES HISTORY: USA vs. NEW ZEALAND
The USA has played New Zealand 17 times overall, with three of those meetings coming at the Olympics. The USWNT leads the all-time series, 15-1-1 and has won all three previous meetings at the Olympics, outscoring the Football Ferns by an overall margin of 8-0. New Zealand will become the fourth different team the USWNT has faced four times at the Olympics, joining Brazil, Japan and Norway.
The USA defeated New Zealand, 4-0, in the final group stage game of the 2008 Olympics and eliminated the Football Ferns in the quarterfinal of the 2012 Olympics, winning 2-0 at St. James’ Park. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the USA opened Group G play with a 2-0 win over New Zealand, powered by goals from Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. Lloyd and Morgan both have six career goals against New Zealand, including a pair of braces.
The teams most recently met on May 16, 2019, with the USA beating New Zealand 5-0 in front of 35,761 fans in St. Louis during the Send-Off Series for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Lloyd netted a brace for the USA with goals in the 61st and 83rd minutes, while Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis also found the back of the net.
THE ROAD TO TOKYO
New Zealand qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by winning the 2018 OFC Women’s Nations Cup, which served as Oceania’s qualification for both the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2020 Women’s Olympic Tournament. The Football Ferns swept through the competition at the 2018 tournament in New Caledonia, outscoring the opposition 43-0 over the course of five games to capture their fourth consecutive OFC Nations Cup title.
New Zealand will be making its fourth consecutive appearance at the Olympics and has qualified for every world championship beginning with the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Football Ferns have in fact already secured a place in the 2023 World Cup, automatically qualifying as a co-host along with Australia.
New Zealand’s best result at the Olympics came in 2012, when the Football Ferns finished third in Group E but went through to the knockout rounds as one of the top two third-place finishers, beating Cameroon, 3-1, in their final group stage match to secure an all-important three points. In 2016, New Zealand defeated Colombia, 1-0, on its second matchday, but did not make it out of the group.
There will be a degree of familiarity between the sides for Saturday’s matchup, both on the field and on the sidelines.
New Zealand is led by head coach Tom Sermanni, who is now in his fourth year with the Football Ferns after being hired in October of 2018. Sermanni coached the USWNT from January 2014 to April 2014, amassing a record of 18-2-4. During his time with the USWNT, six players on the USA’s 2020 Olympic roster made their senior national team debuts – Julie Ertz, Kristie Mewis, Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and Samantha Mewis. Sermanni later served as head coach of the NWSL’s Orlando Pride from 2016-18.
Three players on the Football Ferns roster currently compete in the NWSL in Erceg (North Carolina Courage), Ali Riley (Orlando Pride) and Katie Bowen (Kansas City).
Erceg is a three-time NWSL Champion, capturing the 2016 title with the Western New York Flash and back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019 with the North Carolina Courage. She played alongside the USA’s Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams for all three titles, with Crystal Dunn also featuring on both championship sides in North Carolina. Riley, who was a collegiate teammate of Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press at Stanford University, currently plays alongside Alex Morgan for the Orlando Pride who are off to a fine start to the 2021 season. Bowen is in her fifth full season in NWSL and previously played with Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn while members of Utah Royals FC. She also won an NCAA championship in 2012 with Dunn while playing for the University of North Carolina.
Several other players on New Zealand’s roster have experience in the American collegiate system, including Rennie, who is entering her second season at Indiana University, and Daisy Cleverley, who was named the 2021 BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year at Georgetown University.
Hassett also played collegiately and was a teammate of Morgan’s at the University of California, Berkeley while Wilkinson had a standout career at the University of Tennessee.