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2023 Women’s World Cup - USA 3-0 Vietnam: A solid USWNT win to get the tournament started

Sophia Smith stepped up to give the USA an opening match victory

USA v Vietnam: Group E - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Photo by Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images

The USA began their quest for a World Cup threepeat by taking on Vietnam. With injuries to key players and a squad with new talent featuring in their first tournament, the team has had plenty of challenges to overcome before taking the field. The Golden Star Women Warriors are far from contenders in the group and as the Stars and Stripes will need to grow into the tournament, were an ideal opponent for the opening match.

As far as how the teams lined up, Vlatko elected to creatively solve the problem of missing Becky Sauerbrunn by starting Julie Ertz as center back. A big moment for a new face on the national team also came for Savannah DeMelo starting in midfield in just her second cap with the national team.

Vietnam lined up in a 4-5-1 with a team featuring all players in the Vietnam domestic league with the exception of captain Huỳnh Như who plays in Portugal.

In the end the USA was just too much for Vietnam. The team dominated possession and chances with the team in red failing to register a shot. Ertz essentially played a hybrid center back/deep playmaker role that added another difficult element in the team for the opposition to deal with. While the Stars and Stripes came away with a win, there were some chances that were lacking and the USA could be faulted for not coming away with a larger margin of victory.


The World Cup kicked off with something of a slow start to the campaign for the USWNT. The team dominated possession and created a number of dangerous chances that went just wide of the net or were saved by Trần Thị Kim Thanh.

The constant pressure paid off in the 14th minute when Sophia Smith put the USA ahead 1-0 after Alex Morgan charged back to deflect a pass from Lindsey Horan into the forward’s path.

The USA would not let up and pushed for a second goal and looked to be on the brink of doubling their lead when a foul on Trinity Rodman in the box gave Alex Morgan a shot from the spot. After a VAR check, the striker stepped up and took a shot that was saved by Kim Thanh.

A second goal would come as Smith doubled her tally when a ball into the box was punched into her path by Kim Thanh. The forward’s shot was deflected by the keeper into the net and was initially called offside. After yet another VAR check, a goal was awarded and the Stars and Stripes entered the half with a 2-0 lead.

The second half began with the USA charging forward to immediately create a chance in search of a third goal. Two chances five minutes into the half Ertz got a solid effort from a free kick served up by DeMelo and Rodman set up Horan with a nice cross that the midfielder couldn’t put on frame.

In the 62nd minute Morgan would make way for Megan Rapinoe and DeMelo came off for Rose Lavelle. They were followed in the 75th minute by Rodman coming off for Alyssa Thompson.

15 minutes before the end of regulation, Smith once again made an impact as she tracked down a ball sent to the byline and cut it back to Horan. This time the American no. 10 simply had to send a shot on target as Vietnam’s keeper and most of the backline had drifted over to deal with the threat from Smith.

A few minutes after the goal Crystal Dunn would exit for Kelley O’Hara and Sofia Huerta came in to replace Emily Fox.

The change paid off as Lavelle sent a shot on frame that Kim Thanh tried to push clear but still managed to hit the crossbar. The deflection came straight down, but at just enough of an angle that the goal line technology confirmed it did not cross into the goal.

That would be the last notable chance of the match before nine minutes of injury time was tacked on as the clock struck 90 minutes. During the added time Vietnam did manage a shross that Alyssa Naeher plucked from the sky but the notable action had concluded by then.