USWNT Starts World Cup Campaign with Convincing 3-0 Victory Over Vietnam
USWNT Starts World Cup Campaign with Convincing 3-0 Victory Over Vietnam

Auckland: With a 3-0 victory over Vietnam on Saturday (Friday night in the United States), the USWNT's rising star and the Americans began their quest to become the first team, men's or women's, to win three consecutive World Cup titles in front of an announced crowd of 41,107 at Eden Park. Late in the second half, Smith got an assist on Lindsey Horan's goal.

The USWNT's upcoming match against the Netherlands on Wednesday will play a significant role in determining who will win Group E. Given that the group victor will likely avoid England, Germany, France, or Canada until the final, that is no small matter.

It came as no real surprise that the USWNT defeated Vietnam. They have won the World Cup four times and have occupied the top spot for all but 10 months of the previous 15 years. The coach of the 32nd-ranked Vietnam team, which is competing in its first World Cup, compared the USWNT to a "mountain" on Thursday.

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However, the American team is youthful and inexperienced. Twelve of the 23 players are participating in their first major international competition, while six of the USWNT's starting were making their World Cup debuts, including Savannah DeMelo, who just 13 days earlier won her maiden cap.

This was a chance for the kids to gain experience and confidence for the rest of the competition as much as it was a chance to win.

The USWNT did indeed win the match, both visually and statistically. They had two solid chances before Smith put the Americans on the board in the 14th minute, and they likely could have scored a half-dozen goals in the first half had Alex Morgan not missed a penalty kick and Tran Thi Kim Thanh not made three more saves.

Sophia Smith, a first-time World Cup participant, took the stage by scoring two goals before halftime in the USWNT's opening match.

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Horan floated a wonderful pass that Morgan advanced with a backheel flick when Horan was donning the captain's armband for the first time at a World Cup. Smith received it within the penalty area, and she buried her maiden World Cup goal just inside the goalkeeper's legs.

Smith scored again in the stoppage time. Tran batted back a short corner that Naomi Girma had thrown into the box into oncoming traffic. Smith pounced on it, and her shot had exactly the right amount of force to go in the goal. After a video assistant referee review, it was determined to be a goal after being initially declared offside.

In the 77th, Horan increased the USWNT lead. From a distance inside USWNT territory, Julie Ertz lofted a pass, which Smith intercepted and then played back to Horan, another Colorado native, in the middle. Horan took a touch to stop the goalkeeper, and from approximately 15 yards away, he let fly.

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