USA launch World Cup defence with victory over Vietnam

Vietnam keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh is mobbed by her jubilant team-mates after saving Alex Morgan's penalty
Vietnam keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh was mobbed by her jubilant team-mates after saving Alex Morgan’s penalty

United States launched their bid for an unprecedented third consecutive world crown with a comfortable win against Women’s World Cup debutants Vietnam in Auckland.

Sophia Smith struck twice before half-time for the the four-time world champions in front of thousands of travelling USA fans in a crowd of 41,107.

Smith, one of 14 players in the squad appearing at their first World Cup, fired the number one ranked team in the world ahead with a low drilled finish from an angle.

Her second was awarded following a lengthy check by the Video Assistant Referee for an offside before captain Lindsey Horan, after an assist by Smith, swept home the third in the 78th minute.

There was a memorable moment for Vietnam keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh when she was mobbed by her jubilant team-mates after keeping out Alex Morgan’s penalty which was awarded for a foul on Trinity Rodman.

Vietnam rarely managed to get out of their own half but they worked hard and produced a gritty defensive performance to keep the scoreline respectable.

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A United States fan shows her support for the team during the match with Vietnam
There was a 40,000-plus crowd at Eden Park for the second successive game at the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Bigger tests to come

While this was not the hammering some had predicted in the build-up, the United States did enough to get their campaign off to a winning start.

Four years ago in France they record the biggest ever Women’s World Cup win, a 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, in their opening game on the way to winning the tournament.

They carved out enough chances against Vietnam to record another double-digit win and there will be a tinge of disappointment from boss Vlatko Andonovski that his side did not make the most of their 28 attempts.

The USA arrived in New Zealand as favourites but tougher tests lie ahead and only after Thursday’s match in Wellington against the Netherlands – a repeat of the 2019 final – will their fans learn more about whether they can make it three World Cups successes in a row.

This was so comfortable that Andonovski sent on 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson for her first taste of the World Cup, while fellow substitute and icon Megan Rapinoe also made her 200th appearance for the Stars and Stripes – 17 years to the weekend she made her debut.

Rapinoe had a chance to mark the milestone with a goal but failed to take her chance, while Rose Lavelle struck the bar in the closing stages.

Vietnam fans show their support during their country's first match at a men's or women's Fifa World Cup
Vietnam fans show their support during their country’s first match at a men’s or women’s Fifa World Cup

Women’s World Cup alive with colour

Eden Park was awash with colour as the defending champions launched their bid for a fifth world title.

There was red, white and blue all around the ground as thousands of fans, who had travelled thousands of miles from the United States to be in Auckland, watched their team get off to a solid start in New Zealand’s national stadium.

Chants of “USA, USA, USA,” broke out around the ground at regular intervals, while some supporters came dressed up as the Statue of Liberty. Others wore shirts with ‘Rapinoe’ on the back and one couple even brought their baby to the match.

There was a good luck message from former US President Barack Obama before the match.

“You represent the best of the best, and I’ll be cheering for you all the way,” he wrote on social media.external-link

Inside the ground there were patches of red as Vietnam’s expat community turned up to watch a moment in their country’s sporting history, with it being the first time Vietnam had appeared in a Fifa men’s or women’s World Cup.

Vietnam were organised, tenacious and disciplined but they did not test Alyssa Naeher once despite neutrals in the crowd roaring each time their players crossed the halfway line.

Player of the match

Tran Thi Kim ThanhTran Thi Kim Thanh

with an average of 8.76

USA

  1. Squad number11Player nameSmith

  2. Squad number16Player nameLavelle

  3. Squad number4Player nameGirma

  4. Squad number8Player nameErtz

  5. Squad number23Player nameFox

  6. Squad number9Player nameDeMelo

  7. Squad number1Player nameNaeher

  8. Squad number20Player nameRodman

  9. Squad number7Player nameThompson

  10. Squad number17Player nameSullivan

  11. Squad number10Player nameHoran

  12. Squad number19Player nameDunn

  13. Squad number13Player nameMorgan

  14. Squad number3Player nameHuerta

  15. Squad number5Player nameO’Hara

  16. Squad number15Player nameRapinoe

Vietnam

  1. Squad number14Player nameTran Thi Kim Thanh

  2. Squad number13Player nameLê Thi Diem My

  3. Squad number4Player nameTran Thi Thu

  4. Squad number5Player nameHoàng Thi Loan

  5. Squad number3Player nameChuong Thi Kieu

  6. Squad number11Player nameThái Thi Thao

  7. Squad number12Player namePham Hai Yen

  8. Squad number7Player nameNguyen Thi Tuyet Dung

  9. Squad number17Player nameTran Thi Thu Thao

  10. Squad number10Player nameTran Thi Hai Linh

  11. Squad number16Player nameDuong Thi Vân

  12. Squad number2Player nameLuong Thi Thu Thuong

  13. Squad number21Player nameNgân Thi Van Su

  14. Squad number22Player nameNguyen Thi My Anh

  15. Squad number23Player nameNguyen Thi Bích Thùy

  16. Squad number9Player nameHuynh Nhu

Line-ups

USA

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Naeher
  • 23FoxSubstituted forHuertaat 84′minutes
  • 8Ertz
  • 4Girma
  • 19DunnSubstituted forO’Haraat 84′minutes
  • 9DeMeloSubstituted forLavelleat 63′minutes
  • 17Sullivan
  • 10HoranBooked at 56mins
  • 20RodmanSubstituted forThompsonat 75′minutes
  • 13MorganSubstituted forRapinoeat 63′minutes
  • 11Smith

Substitutes

  • 2Sanchez
  • 3Huerta
  • 5O’Hara
  • 6Williams
  • 7Thompson
  • 12Cook
  • 14Sonnett
  • 15Rapinoe
  • 16Lavelle
  • 18Murphy
  • 21Kingsbury
  • 22Mewis

Vietnam

Formation 5-4-1

  • 14Tran
  • 17Tran
  • 2LuongSubstituted forChuongat 61′minutes
  • 13
  • 4Tran
  • 5Hoàng
  • 23NguyenSubstituted forNguyenat 61′minutes
  • 10TranSubstituted forDuongat 89′minutes
  • 11Thái
  • 7NguyenSubstituted forNgânat 45′minutes
  • 9HuynhBooked at 75minsSubstituted forPhamat 76′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Dào
  • 3Chuong
  • 6Tran
  • 8Tran
  • 12Pham
  • 15Nguyen
  • 16Duong
  • 18Vu
  • 19Nguyen
  • 20Khong
  • 21Ngân
  • 22Nguyen

Referee:
Bouchra Karboubi

Attendance:
41,107

Live Text

  1. Match ends, USA 3, Vietnam Women 0.

  2. Second Half ends, USA 3, Vietnam Women 0.

  3. Corner, USA. Conceded by Chuong Thi Kieu.

  4. Attempt missed. Lindsey Horan (USA) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

  5. Offside, USA. Lindsey Horan tries a through ball, but Rose Lavelle is caught offside.

  6. Corner, USA. Conceded by Chuong Thi Kieu.

  7. Substitution, Vietnam Women. Duong Thi Vân replaces Tran Thi Hai Linh because of an injury.

  8. Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  9. Delay in match because of an injury Tran Thi Hai Linh (Vietnam Women).

  10. Foul by Sophia Smith (USA).

  11. Hoàng Thi Loan (Vietnam Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Hand ball by Alyssa Thompson (USA).

  13. Attempt saved. Rose Lavelle (USA) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Sophia Smith.

  14. Substitution, USA. Sofia Huerta replaces Emily Fox.

  15. Substitution, USA. Kelley O’Hara replaces Crystal Dunn.

  16. Offside, USA. Rose Lavelle tries a through ball, but Emily Fox is caught offside.

  17. Corner, USA. Conceded by Tran Thi Thu Thao.

  18. Attempt blocked. Julie Ertz (USA) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Megan Rapinoe with a cross.

  19. Corner, USA. Conceded by Lê Thi Diem My.

  20. Attempt missed. Megan Rapinoe (USA) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left from a direct free kick.

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