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Who else but Sophia Smith?
The 22-year-old forward is quickly emerging as the next face of women’s soccer in the United States, and she powered the U.S. women’s national team to a 3-0 victory over Vietnam in their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup opener on Friday night at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.
Boasting their youngest starting XI in a World Cup match since 2007, the Americans understandably got out to a slow start against the Golden Star Women Warriors despite being heavily favored to dominate.
The United States didn’t break through with the opening goal until Smith found the back of the net in the 14th minute on a great chip pass by Alex Morgan.
Morgan had the opportunity to put the U.S. up 2-0 on a penalty kick in the 44th minute, but Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh stopped the shot, which was lackluster at best.
Smith found the back of the net again in first half stoppage time to put the U.S. up 2-0 entering the second half. She became the second-youngest player in USWNT history to score multiple goals in a World Cup match.
USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski made his first substitutions of the match in the 62nd minute, bringing in Rose Lavelle for Savannah DeMelo and Megan Rapinoe in for Morgan. He also subbed on Alyssa Smith for Trinity Rodman in the 75th minute.
Those changes ended up paying off, too, as Lindsey Horan found the back of the net in the 77th minute to give the United States a 3-0 and put the game too far out of reach for Vietnam.
Andonovski made sure to give as many players as possible the opportunity to play on Friday, making his final substitutions of the match in the 84th minute, bringing in Kelley O’Hara for Crystal Dunn and Sofia Huerta for Emily Fox.
Smith, who recorded an assist on Horan’s goal, was the highlight of the night, and fans were pleased with her performance as much of the roster left us all with questions moving forward:
The United States outshot Vietnam 28-0 and left much more to be desired in their first match of the 2023 World Cup. The Americans will need to be much more composed moving forward, especially with tougher competition on the horizon.
The USWNT will be back in action on Wednesday against the Netherlands before taking on Portugal in the final game of the group stage on Aug. 1.