US Breezes to Opening Victory at Women's World Cup

US beats Vietnam 3-0
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2023 12:10 AM CDT
US Breezes to Opening Victory at Women's World Cup
United States' Alex Morgan (13) and Savannah DeMelo (9) celebrate a goal by teammate Sophia Smith during the first half of the Women's World Cup Group E soccer match between the United States and Vietnam at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, July 22, 2023.   (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Fresh-faced newcomer Sophia Smith teamed with captain Lindsey Horan to give the United States a balanced performance as the Americans breezed to another opening victory at the Women's World Cup, the AP reports. Smith scored twice and the two-time defending champions beat tournament first-timers Vietnam 3-0 Saturday for the Americans' 12th straight victory in a World Cup match. Smith, who turns 23 next month and is playing in her first tournament, is the second-youngest US women's player to score multiple goals in a World Cup game. Horan, the team's co-captain with Alex Morgan, added a goal for the favored Americans, who have won four World Cups overall and are vying for an unprecedented three-peat in this year's tournament.

"I love playing with Lindsey, she's such a great player. She has such a good eye for things that a lot of players don't see," Smith said. "She understands my game. She understands the runs I'm making before I even make them." Vietnam drew comparisons to Thailand, the team the Americans routed 13-0 in in their 2019 World Cup opening game. But Vietnam was surprisingly resilient, kept the game closer than expected, and goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh stopped Morgan's first-half penalty attempt. Morgan was knocked to the field clutching her calf after trying for the rebound off her missed penalty, but she quickly returned. It was just her second penalty miss for the United States.

Smith, one of 14 Americans playing in their first World Cup, showed why she was named both US Soccer's Player of the Year and the National Women's Soccer League MVP last year with her two first-half goals. She scored when Morgan directed a pass from Horan to her in the 14th minute. Smith and Horan celebrated with a choreographed handshake after the goal. Smith scored again in first-half stoppage time to make it 2-0 going into the break. The United States was at first flagged as offside before a video review confirmed the goal. The US team was infused with young talent including Smith and Trinity Rodman after settling for a disappointing bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Among the veterans, 38-year-old Megan Rapinoe made her 200th international appearance against Vietnam. (More on the game here.)

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