The U.S. women’s national team will visit 2023 World Cup host New Zealand for a pair of international friendlies in January, the team announced Wednesday night.

The USWNT will travel to New Zealand for a six-day training camp, then will play two games against the Football Ferns.

The first will kick off at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Sky Stadium in Wellington, and the second will kick off at 10 p.m. ET Friday, Jan. 20, at Eden Park in Auckland. These venues will play host to the USWNT’s three group-stage matches at the World Cup.

The first-ever matches in New Zealand for the USWNT will provide players and fans with a sneak peak of the atmosphere for the July tournament and of one potential opponent.

The 2019 World Cup champion United States will play in Group E against 2019 runner-up Netherlands, as well as Vietnam and an intercontinental playoff winner, while New Zealand will play in Group A against Norway, Switzerland and the Philippines.

Still, the USWNT and the Ferns could see each other in the knockout round.

“We will get some quality training time together and have two tough matches against a great opponent that is hosting the World Cup,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a statement. “We also get to experience the long travel and familiarize ourselves with the host cities, the stadiums, the training grounds and the culture, and hopefully we’ll play in front of some big crowds supporting the home team. It will be a great way to start the year.”

The USWNT holds the No. 1 spot in the FIFA world rankings, even after back-to-back losses to England and Spain. The team will host No. 3 Germany next week in a pair of friendlies.

New Zealand is ranked No. 22 in the world, while World Cup co-host Australia is ranked No. 13.

The Ferns have a 1-1-17 all-time record against the USWNT, with their one win coming in 1987. The most recent meeting between the teams came in February at the SheBelieves Cup in California, a 5-0 win for the home team.

The United States women’s national team bounced back from Thursday’s scoreless draw with the Czech Republic with a 5-0 win over New Zealand in their second match of the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday.

Referring to the USWNT’s competitions as an ongoing “process” as they prepare for the 2023 World Cup, head coach Vlatko Andonovski was hesitant to pinpoint anything that has been “good” or “bad” in the team’s performances in the SheBelieves Cup so far.

“I’m happy for today’s result, but I’m not any more happy than I was in the last game,” he said.

One area where the USWNT did improve from Thursday to Sunday was their ability to create more scoring opportunities, as they forced three own goals from New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore and got two goals from Ashley Hatch and Mallory Pugh.

Below are three takeaways from the USWNT’s match against New Zealand.

Figuring it out in the midfield

Andonovski said after the game that he thought the team’s passing distribution in the attacking third was better in the second match than in the first, but the creativity still needs to be better.

“I wanted us to be just a little bit more sophisticated, just a little more creative in certain situations,” he said. Andonovski did praise the creativity of midfielder Ashley Sanchez, who started in place of the injured Rose Lavelle.

What worked best were plays near the opponents’ 18-yard box, especially accurate crosses and well-timed runs into those crosses.

Sofia Huerta holding her own at right fullback

Playing the entire match, Huerta was one of the most productive players on the pitch Sunday. Her precise crosses contributed to the attack, resulting in two assists — one to Midge Purce and the other to Ashley Hatch. Purce’s header that skimmed New Zealand defender Moore was counted as an own goal, but was a direct result of Huerta’s consistent dangerous services into the right areas.

In her own half, Huerta made the most impressive defensive play of the game, saving a New Zealand chance with a well-directed header out of the box.

Ashley Hatch’s serious ‘early goal’ energy

You could chalk it up to beginners’ luck, but NWSL 2021 Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch has been lethal in front of net. Not only has she scored three games in a row, but she’s scored her goals within six minutes of stepping onto the pitch.

She’s the kind of player Andonovski needs to keep around when the U.S. could use a quick goal off of the opening whistle, or if the team is struggling to find rhythm in the second half and needs a sub to get momentum rolling.

The U.S. plays their final match of the SheBelieves Cup on Wednesday against Iceland at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The teams will battle for first place in the tournament after Iceland defeated New Zealand 1-0 in their first match on Thursday, followed by a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

The United States women’s national team secured a 5-0 win over New Zealand on Sunday, in part thanks to three own goals by New Zealand’s Meikayla Moore to start the game.

The USWNT went up 2-0 on two subsequent own goals in the fifth and sixth minutes of the game. A third came off of Moore following a cross from Midge Purce in the 36th minute to make it 3-0.

Ashley Hatch scored her third career USWNT goal in the second half just five minutes after being subbed on for Catarina Macario. In November, the NWSL Golden Boot winner scored the third-fastest goal in USWNT history in her first start for the national team.

Hatch, the last USWNT player to score in 2021, is now the first player to score in 2022.

Mallory Pugh notched one more in stoppage time to seal the USWNT’s 5-0 win. The goal was the 19th goal of Pugh’s career with the national team.

With the win, the USWNT sits just behind Iceland in the SheBelieves Cup standings after Iceland defeated Czech Republic 2-1 on Sunday, giving them a 2-0 record in the tournament. The USWNT played to a scoreless draw with the Czech Republic in their first SheBelieves Cup matchup.

The U.S. and Iceland go head to head on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.