World champions USA showed nerves – Andonovski

Alex Morgan of the United States in action against Vietnam at the Women's World Cup
Alex Morgan had a penalty saved against Vietnam

United States boss Vlatko Andonovski says nerves were on display as the defending champions missed a host of chances in their opening Women’s World Cup game in Auckland.

The top-ranked team in the world eased past debutants Vietnam 3-0 but were far from their clinical best.

Sophia Smith scored two and made the other for captain Lindsey Horan in the Group E game at Eden Park.

“I’m sure the nerves had something to do with it,” said Andonovski.

  • USA launch World Cup defence with victory over Vietnam
  • Are history-seeking USA still the team to beat?
  • Go here for all the latest from the Women’s World Cup

The United States have put their trust in the next generation at this tournament, with 14 of the 23-player squad making their first appearance at a World Cup.

As well as forward Smith, Naomi Girma, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan, Savannah DeMelo and 21-year-old forward Trinity Rodman made their World Cup debuts against Vietnam.

“I’m not worried about it, ” added Andonovski, who is also appearing at his first World Cup, when pressed about players feeling nervous.

“We’re actually very encouraged by the style of football we displayed today. We had Sophia Smith debuting at the World Cup scoring two beautiful goals.”

Four of the starting XI on Saturday – Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan – started the 2019 final against the Netherlands, who the United States play next on Thursday in Wellington (02:00 BST).

Andonovski made it clear his players would be working on their finishing before the second group match.

The Stars and Stripes created 28 chances but it was not until the 77th minute that Horan scored the third, while Morgan had a penalty saved.

“Look at this team,” added the United States boss. “It’s the first time this XI have been on the field together. We had numerous opportunities and connections and I felt we needed to be a little bit better with final shot.

“Unfortunately we didn’t capitalise on all the great opportunities that we created.

“That is something we are certainly going to focus on in the lead-up to the next game, but the first one is in the books and the focus immediately shifts towards game two.”

Six penalties in six games

This tournament is only three days old but there have already been plenty of penalty incidents.

There have been six penalties awarded in as many matches. but only two have been scored – Steph Catley for Australia against the Republic of Ireland, and Ramona Bachmann for Switzerland against the Philippines.

Vietnam keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh was mobbed by her team-mates after keeping out Morgan’s penalty when the score was 1-0.

Andonovski was also asked about the number of penalties awarded at this World Cup.

“With all the cameras, the video assistant referee and all the angles, I’m sure they’re making the right calls,” he said.

You might also like...