Stanford grad Riley to play for New Zealand against Team USA

Stanford grad Ali Riley was one of 20 players named to the New Zealand women's national soccer team that will compete in an International Friendly against the United States on Sunday at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Match time is 3:30 p.m.

The Football Ferns and Americans (11-0-2 in 2013) also will play in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday.

After victories over Brazil and China in the Valais Cup, coach Tony Readings is looking forward to the opportunity to test his team against the best in the world.

"USA will provide another step up in opposition from what the team has faced so far this year," said Readings. "They have improved under their new coach this year and have added a lot of quality to an already impressive squad. These matches will place increased demands on the players and this is vital for our continued growth as we build towards the World Cup and Olympic Games."

Ranked No. 1 in the FIFA Women's World Rankings Team USA is the two-time FIFA Women's World Cup winners and four-times Olympic champions, most recently in London 2012, where they beat the Football Ferns, 2-0, in the quarterfinals.

"USA have strength in depth in every position and some of the best players in the world," Readings said. "They are very hard to break down and have numerous quality attacking weapons at their disposal."

Among Stanford grads playing for the U.S. are Rachel Buehler, Nicole Barnhart and Christen Press, who scored a goal in the Americans' 4-0 win over Australia on Monday in San Antonio.

Cardinal grad Kelley O'Hara is injured and will be out for a few months following major ankle surgery.

"They have a lot of pace throughout the team and are physically imposing," Readings said. "They are strong in all moments of the game and do not allow opposition to easily find any sort of rhythm."

Readings has named a settled squad for the tour with several youngsters such as Stephanie Skilton, Megan Lee and Meikayla Moore coming into the squad, highlighting the strength in depth of the junior sides.

"The fact that we can easily bring young players such as Stephanie, Megan and Meikayla into a settled squad shows how much depth of talent there is available," said Readings. "It's a testament to both the players and the people behind the Junior and Young Football Ferns that there is such talent available for selection. It shows the positive impact the investment into the future of the Ferns at all levels has had."

Team USA brings a 36-match unbeaten streak, and a 74-match home unbeaten streak into Sunday's game.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/New Zealand Football


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Football Fern Fan
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Taking on the mighty US Women's National Soccer team is always a big challenge. But a year ago NZ were leading in the 87th minute only to lose at the death. In their last three games NZ have tied #3 Japan 1-1, beaten #4 Brazil 1-0 and beaten #16 China 4-0.

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