Sophia Smith, USA cruise in Women's World Cup opener vs Vietnam | Inquirer Sports

Sophia Smith, USA cruise in Women’s World Cup opener vs Vietnam

/ 02:00 PM July 22, 2023

Sophia Smith USA Fifa Women's World Cup

USA’s forward #11 Sophia Smith celebrates scoring her team’s second goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup Group E football match between the United States and Vietnam at Eden Park in Auckland on July 22, 2023. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)

Sophia Smith scored twice and set up another as a new-look United States launched their bid to win a third Women’s World Cup in a row with a 3-0 victory over Vietnam on Saturday.

One of six members of the USA starting line-up making her World Cup debut, lively forward Smith finished a fine move to open the scoring in the 14th minute at Eden Park in Auckland.


Veteran Alex Morgan was then denied from the penalty spot before Smith struck again deep in stoppage time at the end of the first half in front of a crowd of just over 41,000.


She then set up the third goal for captain Lindsey Horan in the 77th minute, after veteran icon Megan Rapinoe had come off the bench to win her 200th cap.

Vlatko Andonovski’s favorites also missed a hatful of chances as debutants Vietnam avoided the humiliation that befell Thailand at the 2019 World Cup, when they were thrashed 13-0 by the United States.

There is clearly room for improvement for an American side who will also play Portugal and 2019 runners-up the Netherlands in Group E, as they aim to win an unprecedented third consecutive title.

However, this was a new experience for many of their side, and for Andonovski, taking charge of a World Cup game for the first time having replaced Jill Ellis as coach not long after their triumph in France four years ago.

With Rapinoe beginning her final World Cup before retirement on the bench, the 22-year-old Smith and 21-year-old Trinity Rodman flanked Morgan in attack on their debuts at the finals.

Right-back Emily Fox, centre-back Naomi Girma, and midfielders Andi Sullivan and Savannah DeMelo also made their first World Cup appearances.


Morgan squanders spot kick

Rodman, the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman, needed lengthy treatment after suffering a knock inside the first minute before going on to have an impact on proceedings.

It was Smith who got the breakthrough though, controlling and finishing off a fine move expertly after Morgan had flicked on a pass by Horan.

It was one-way traffic but it remained 1-0 until Rodman was clipped by Hoang Thi Loan in the area just before the break and the Moroccan referee gave a penalty after coming over to review the images.

Yet Morgan, playing in her 19th World Cup match, saw her poor kick saved by Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh diving to the right.

Instead, Smith made it 2-0 towards the end of eight added minutes in the first half, firing through the legs of the goalkeeper and in after a Girma cross had been punched away.

The goal was initially ruled out before being given after another lengthy check confirmed there was no offside.

Rapinoe, her hair died blue, entered the fray to cheers just after the hour mark alongside Rose Lavelle, the two goal-scorers from the 2019 final.

Teenager Alyssa Thompson also came on for her World Cup bow just before Smith pounced on a Julie Ertz ball forward and supplied a cutback for Lyon midfielder Horan to score.

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Lavelle hit the underside of the bar late on as Vietnam escaped with a creditable scoreline on their World Cup bow.


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TAGS: Fifa Women’s World Cup

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