A brace from US soccer’s newest superstar Sophia Smith and a late goal from Lindsey Horan was enough to give the defending champion a dream start as it begins a historic World Cup campaign.
The USWNT are chasing a third World Cup in a row and could not have asked for a better start,dominating proceedings from the outset before Smith opened the scoring just 14 minutes into her World Cup debut.
Horan found Alex Morgan with a pass through the Vietnam midfield before Morgan’s clever flick put Smith through, and the 22-year-old’s drilled left-footed finish found the back of the net with ease.
In the midst of the early US dominance, there was a brief highlight for the underdog.
After a VAR check, the USWNT were awarded a penalty after a foul on Trinity Rodman. Morgan stepped up, but Vietnam goalkeeper Trần Thị Kim Thanh made a great save to deny the striker, sparking jubilant celebrations among the Vietnamese side.
In first-half stoppage time, Smith scored again to double the USWNT’s advantage. The Portland Thorns forward squeezed the ball into the net – albeit with a much scrappier effort than her opener.
As chances came and went for the USWNT, it took more brilliant work from Smith to extend the lead. The standout performer latched onto a ball over the top of the Vietnam defense before squaring a pass to Horan who simply had to strike the ball into an open net.
“It’s so exciting. Every minute of that game was fun, and the crowd was amazing, and I think it was a good place to start in this tournament, but I know we have so much more to get to,” Smith told reporters postgame.
“We’re going to celebrate this for a second but then put our focus into the next game,” the player of the match concluded.
For head coach Vlatko Andonovski, the USWNT played even better than the score line suggests.
“I wouldn’t say that I expected more goals but with the way that we played and the opportunities that we created I sure wanted to see more goals and I thought that we deserved to score more goals,” he said.