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Alex Morgan laments missed chances: ‘It wasn’t a good penalty’

Alex Morgan's first-half penalty kick was saved by Vietnam goalkeeper Thi Kim Thanh Tran. (Ane Frosaker/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Alex Morgan had one assist in the USWNT’s 3-0 victory over Vietnam to open the World Cup group stage, but she knows that it could have been more.

The star striker helped deliver on the team’s first goal scored by Sophia Smith, but she failed to convert on a penalty kick in the 44th minute. It was a rare miss for Morgan, who is typically lights out from the spot.

It was also the first U.S. penalty to be saved at a World Cup since 2003, when Mia Hamm’s attempt was stuffed against Norway.

“It wasn’t a good penalty for me and I know that,” Morgan said. “But I’m glad that the team put three goals away and that we’re onto the next one.”

In addition to the penalty miss, Morgan knows she could have put away other scoring chances.

“Definitely had a couple that I should have put away, for sure — penalty included,” said Morgan, who’s playing in her fourth World Cup. “But, happy with the result.”

Finishing opportunities was the theme on Saturday in New Zealand, as the USWNT had 28 shots (compared to zero for Vietnam) but put just seven on goal. While the World Cup newcomers put up a strong defensive effort, the USWNT will need to improve in the final third to continue to perform at a high level.

Co-captain Morgan and the defending World Cup champions next play the No. 9-ranked Netherlands on Wednesday in their second group-stage match.

“I think that if there is one thing that we need to do better, besides finishing the opportunities, is just how can we help the players that are in the position to finish those opportunities, and give them a little better service,” said USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “So whether it is finding them on the right step, finding on the right proper foot. So I would say the service before the finish and the finish itself.”