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New last name, same result: Swanson leads USWNT's win over New Zealand to begin 2023 with a bang

4:11 pm AEDT 18/1/23
Swanson Pugh USWNT New Zealand 2023
Mallory Swanson has a new last name, but the U.S. women's national team forward proved she can still find the goal in a 4-0 win on Wednesday.
  • Swanson scored two of four goals
  • Rodman came off bench for two assists
  • Williams scored goal in return from injury

TELL ME MORE: Mallory Swanson, who went by Mallory Pugh before her marriage to Dansby Swanson, scored two of the USWNT's four goals in a 4-0 triumph over New Zealand, with all four of the team's strikes coming in the second half. Swanson's first came on an assist from Trinity Rodman, one of four halftime substitutes from Vlatko Andonovski. The U.S. added a second in the 60th minute, with Alex Morgan finishing off a spectacular Rose Lavelle backheel assist, before Swanson added another three minutes later to put the result beyond doubt. Lynn Williams made it four moments after coming on in the 67th minute as she returns from injury issues. Rodman, once again, was credited with the assist, becoming the youngest USWNT player to have two assists in a game since, coincidentally, Swanson in 2017.

THE MVP: It's obviously Swanson, who scored two to start 2023 after scoring six times last year. After failing to find the back of the net for two-and-a-half years before the 2022 She Believes Cup, Swanson is seemingly back to her best as the USWNT inches closer to the World Cup.

THE BIG LOSER: There are few USWNT players as important as Lindsey Horan and while she looked much better in the second half, the first half showed some signs of concern. Naming her a "loser" here is harsh, especially given the result, but Horan hasn't quite been herself in some time. She started alongside Taylor Korniek in midfield in this match and, heading into the World Cup, she'll need to be just a little bit better if the U.S. midfield hopes to go toe-to-toe with the elite.

Andonovski, too, will have work to do to figure out how to get the USWNT back to its true best, as a lopsided second half overshadowed what was a slow start to start the game that could be punished by better teams.

MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? The USWNT will face New Zealand again on Friday as it gets a first-hand look at one location set to host this summer's World Cup.

MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE):