USWNT: Sophia Smith assured of starting role by Andonovski

(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Sophia Smith exploded for two goals Thursday night against Jamaica, getting the USWNT out to an early lead in their eventual 5-0 win.

The goal that secured her brace came in the seventh minute, a mere two minutes after her first. It was a stark contrast from her performance against Haiti, where she was largely silent throughout the game.

USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said Thursday he spent time with Smith following the Haiti game to “reassure her” of her status with the team.

“I don’t think the last game was her best game, and I had a meeting with her and talked about that to reassure her,” Andonovski told reporters following the Jamaica game. “Regardless of what the game is going to be, regardless of what this game is going to look like or the next game is going to look like, she will be a starter for this team just because we know how good she is now and we can see her potential, how good she can be in the future.”

With just 18 USWNT caps under her belt, Smith continues to solidify her spot as part of the team’s present and future at just 21 years old.

“Soph is an incredible young player,” Andonovski said. “To be a starter on the best team in the world is not easy. It comes with lots of weight. She wants to be the best every time she steps on the field.”

But as Andonovski pointed out, the perfectionist in her sometimes “can be counterproductive.”

“She does have the potential to be one of the best players in the world,” Andonovski said. “And I think she demonstrated that in the first half, which I thought was an incredible 45 minutes for her.”

After the game, Smith said that she felt the team had made strides from the Monday’s 3-0 win against Haiti.

“We always want to get on the front foot early and I think we did just that,” she said. “There were two great assists and I think when we can start the game like that it’s always gonna be a good fun game to play in. I think it’s great for us to start that way.

“I think we built off of last game, we adjusted things and fixed things. Obviously there are still things we want to work on but against a really good team we performed really well.”