The USWNT earned a 3-0 win against Vietnam in the team’s opening match at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. A brace from forward Sophia Smith and a goal from midfielder and team captain Lindsey Horan led the team to victory in front of a crowd of 41,107 mostly American fans at historic Eden Park.
USA 3 Vietnam 0
The USA improved to 7W-2D-0L all-time in opening matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup and have started each of the last four tournaments with a win. The USWNT has now won 13 consecutive matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, extending its own record for most consecutive wins in the competition.
While Vietnam, one of eight debutants in this year’s tournament and now the 39th nation to play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, played a tough match defensively, the USA dominated the proceedings and ended up piling up a 28-0 margin in shots. Vietnam tackled hard and played in a compact 5-4-1 formation, packing its defensive third when the USA was in possession.
The match was physical from the jump as a gritty Vietnam side made its presence known with several fouls. The USA had an early scare in just the first minute as forward Trinity Rodman fell hard after a challenge and needed attention from the medical staff before returning to the field moments later.
The U.S. created plenty of scoring chances and surely had enough excellent looks at goal to more than double the scoreline, but never stopped looking for ways to break down Vietnam. With Horan pulling the strings in midfield, the U.S. created the opening goal in the 14th minute as she received the ball near midfield and played a brilliant, driven pass toward Morgan at the top of the penalty box.
Morgan flicked a first-time pass with her heel into Smith’s path as she ran into the left side of box. Smith then took a touch and fired low with her left foot through the legs of goalkeeper Tran Thị Kim Thanh to open the scoring. Her goal marked the fastest at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup thus far.
After continuously threatening in the attack, the USA nearly doubled the lead in the 44th minute when a VAR review awarded the USA a penalty kick for a foul on Rodman moments earlier. Morgan stepped up to the spot, but Tran, who made four saves on the night in an impressive performance, came up with a diving stop to deny her attempt.
Smith then struck again before the halftime whistle, this time in the seventh of eight minutes of stoppage time that were awarded in the first half after Vietnam consistently tried to waste time.
Tran came off her line and punched out a cross from defender Naomi Girma, but the ball flew directly to Smith just inside the box where the reigning U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year finished once again with her left foot through the legs of Tran with Julie Ertz and Morgan providing distraction in front of the net.
In the 63rd minute, forward and USWNT legend Megan Rapinoe earned her 200th cap after coming on as a substitute for Morgan. Rapinoe, who announced in early July that she will retire at the end of the 2023 NWSL season, becomes just the 14th player in U.S. Women’s National Team history to reach the milestone.
The USA then capped off the match in the 77th minute with a goal from Horan. Captaining the squad for the first time at a world championship event, Horan finished with a poised and powerful strike from the center of the penalty box following a brilliant effort from Smith to strip the ball from a defender inside the penalty area on the right side. She then cut a pass back to Horan who had time to settle and smash her shot home past several Vietnam defenders.
By the end of the match, eight USA players made their Women’s World Cup debuts – Savannah DeMelo (who also made her first USWNT start), Girma, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan, Smith, Rodman, 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson and Sofia Huerta.
1-Alyssa Naeher; 23-Emily Fox (3-Sofia Huerta, 84), 4-Naomi Girma, 8-Julie Ertz, 19-Crystal Dunn (5-Kelley O’Hara, 84); 17-Andi Sullivan, 10-Lindsey Horan (Capt.), 9-Savannah DeMelo (16-Rose Lavelle, 63); 11-Sophia Smith, 13-Alex Morgan (15-Megan Rapinoe, 63), 20-Trinity Rodman (7-Alyssa Thompson, 75)
Substitutes not used: 2-Ashley Sanchez, 6-Lynn Williams, 12-Alana Cook, 14-Emily Sonnett, 18-Casey Murphy, 21-Aubrey Kingsbury, 22-Kristie Mewis
Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski
14-TRAN Thi Kim Thanh; 17-TRAN Thi Thu Thao, 13-LE Thi Diem My, 2-LUONG Thi Thu Thuong (3-CHUONG Thi Kieu, 61), 4-TRAN Thi Thu, 5-HOANG Thi Loan; 10-TRAN Thi Hai Linh (16-DUONG Thi Van, 90), 23-NGUYEN Thi Bich Thuy (22-NGUYEN Thi My Anh, 62), 11-THAI Thi Thao, 7-NGUYEN Thi Tuyet Dung (21-NGAN Thi Van Su, 46); 9-HUYNH Nhu (Capt.) (12-PHAM Hai Yen, 76)
Substitutes not used: 1-DAO Thi Kieu Oanh, 20-KHONG Thi Hang, 6-TRAN Thi Thuy Nga, 8-TRAN Thi Thuy Trang, 15-NGUYEN Thi Thuy Hang, 18-VU Thi Hoa, 19-NGUYEN Thi Thanh Nha,
Head coach: Duc Chung Mai
The U.S. will now face the Netherlands on July 27 at Wellington Regional Stadium in its second Group E match and will finish group play against Portugal on Aug. 1 back at Eden Park in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau