The United States beat New Zealand 5-0 in the SheBelieves Cup in Carson, California, on Sunday afternoon thanks in large part to three own goals from New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore.
The U.S. was up two inside of six minutes following a pair of own goals from Moore, who redirected a cross into her own net and then saw a header from Margaret Purce go in after bouncing off Moore’s head.
Vlatko Andonovski’s side continued to pile on the pressure as the half wore on and went three up with yet another own goal from Moore, who was substituted shortly after for Rebekah Stott to end a brutal afternoon for the defender in her 50th cap for the senior team.
“She had a tough day at the office. Obviously, she’s sad and disappointed, but she’s an unbelievable person and player who belongs on this team,” New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova said. “We are all behind her in this tough moment for her.”
The U.S. finally scored a goal of its own shortly before the hour mark of the second half when Ashley Hatch headed past New Zealand keeper Erin Nayler from an inch-perfect cross by Sofia Huerta.
“We’ve been working on swinging the ball around to our outside backs and our wingers and making sure that we’re available in the box,” Hatch said. “Laid a nice one across the face of the goal and I was able to head it in. So good cross and easy finish.”
Substitute Mallory Pugh added to the final scoreline in second-half stoppage time, breaking in behind the New Zealand defense and slotting the ball past Nayler with a pinpoint finish to make it 5-0.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made one save for the U.S. It was her first match since Aug. 2, 2021, when she was forced to leave the Olympic semifinal against Canada in the 30th minute after suffering a knee injury.
Naeher was one of six changes in the starting 11 compared to Thursday’s opener, a disappointing 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic. The Americans’ final match of the tournament will come against Iceland on Feb. 23.
Andonovski is evaluating younger players during the four-team round-robin tournament with stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press and Tobin Heath not on the roster.
“We’re excited about the win. They needed to see goals and that’s good. We’re hoping that this is just the beginning,” Andonovski said. “I thought that we were we were able to impose ourselves early on and set up a rhythm of pace that that suits us.”
The U.S., which has not allowed a goal on home soil in nearly two years since a 3-1 win over Japan in the final match of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, now leads the standings with four points from two games. Iceland, who plays the Czech Republic later on Sunday, is in second with three points.