Women's World Cup sees first US win in hunt for glory
Auckland, New Zealand - The two-time defending women's World Cup winner United States showed why they were favorites to win it all again with a commanding 3-0 win over Vietnam to begin Group E play.
The hype for the USWNT to win it all once again got off on the right foot in the team's first game of the tournament on Saturday.
The US were in front of goal early and often, taking 16 shots in the first 45 minutes in Auckland's Eden Park. But just two of them found the back of the net.
"We created a lot of opportunities and wanted to score more goals, but it is what it is," said US head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
Both came from Sophia Smith, who finished off Alex Morgan's backheel flick to her in the 14th minute and deflected a shot through Vietnamese keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh's legs late in first half stoppage time.
US captain Lindsey Horan added a goal of her own in the 77th minute.
USWNT gets soccer started at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
Smith's first half performance makes her the top scorer early in the tournament.
"It’s so exciting to be at this World Cup. Every moment today was fun and the crowd was amazing. I think this has been a good way to start but I know we have more to give" Smith said.
Though Vietnam was clearly the weaker side, they were certainly brave in their attempts to quell the American barrage. The defense and Tran put themselves in harm's way over and over. Tran even managed to stop a penalty by Morgan, to the shock of the 41,107 in attendance.
"Before the match, we promised that we might be outmatched in terms of skills, but we would definitely not be outmatched in determination and spirit," he said.
Megan Rapinoe, the Golden Ball winner of the previous women's World Cup, earned her 200th cap for the US as a substitute.
The US will now hope to carry the good momentum into their second group stage game against the Netherlands on Thursday.
Cover photo: Collage: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports