AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The U.S. women’s national team got the result it expected, though perhaps not the margin of victory it anticipated going in, defeating Vietnam 3-0 in the teams’ 2023 FIFA World Cup opener. Sophie Smith scored two first-half goals and Lindsey Horan added a third on a day when the U.S. defense was untroubled.
Smith scored the opener in the 14th minute, finishing through the legs of Vietnam keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh after she was put through thanks to Alex Morgan’s layoff. Morgan should have added to the U.S. scoreline, but her 44th-minute penalty was saved by Tran. It was left to Smith to extend the Americans’ lead, scoring deep into first-half stoppage time as she fired home after a weak attempted punch by Tran.
The U.S. kept up its territorial dominance in the second half, and finally broke through in the 77th minute with Smith assisting on Lindsey Horan’s goal.
Here’s how the individual performances stacked up.
Player ratings (0-10; 10=best; 5=average. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Alyssa Naeher, 6 — She touched the ball four times in the first half. That pretty much summed up a stress-free day.
DF Emily Fox, 5 — Defended her side well enough but needed to be sharper in the attacking half. Missed a glorious chance in the 66th minute when she blazed her shot over the bar from close range.
DF Julie Ertz, 7 — Wasn’t sharp on the ball early but then stayed within herself in terms of passing. Was her usual physical force in the back.
DF Naomi Girma, 8 — Cool and composed on the ball, and used her pace well to snuff out what few attacks Vietnam could muster. Her long diagonal passes created problems for Vietnam, creating the scramble prior to Smith’s second goal.
DF Crystal Dunn, 6 — Was a factor going forward and should do more of that, especially with Smith not always linking up well with teammates.
MF Savannah DeMelo, 5 — A mixed bag. Did plenty of good work defensively, but in attack it was a different story. She slipped Morgan in on goal with a sharp pass, but she didn’t get on the ball enough and needed to be more impactful.
MF Andi Sullivan, 6 — Kept the U.S. attack ticking over and won the ball back when she needed to. Led the team with 16 defensive interventions.
MF Lindsey Horan, 7 — A bit inconsistent in the first half. Forced the issue through the middle too often but did have a hand in Smith’s opener. Heated up a bit more in the second half and then delivered the capper that could prove critical if goal differential decides the group.
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FW Trinity Rodman, 6 — Shook off an early knock to be a real force out wide in the first half and earned a penalty late in the first half. Faded a bit after halftime.
FW Alex Morgan, 5 — Showed her quality with a deft touch that set the table for Smith’s opener but failed to put home a penalty earned by Rodman.
FW Sophia Smith, 8 — Expectations were high for Smith entering the tournament and she largely delivered, taking her goals well. While she wasn’t at her best in terms in terms of link-up play, she made the plays that mattered, including the assist on Horan’s crucial third goal.
FW Megan Rapinoe, 5 (on for Morgan, 63″) — Her appearance was her 200th in a U.S. jersey, a fantastic milestone for an iconic player. Had a great chance to mark the appearance with a goal but fired over in the 71st minute.
MF Rose Lavelle, 6 (on for DeMelo, 63″) — The U.S. attack perked up after she entered the match, and she rattled the bar late, but the best news was she made it onto the field. The U.S. will need her later on.
FW Alyssa Thompson, N/R (on for Rodman, 75″) — Memorable day for the 18-year-old. She brought plenty of energy to the field, too.
DF Kelley O’Hara, N/R (on for Dunn, 84″) — The veteran got on the field for a late cameo and a rugged tackle.
DF Sofia Huerta, N/R (on for Fox, 84″) — Looked short of pace in her brief stint.