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USWNT vs. Vietnam: Sophia Smith notches historic brace in World Cup debut

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team kicked off its World Cup title defense with a 3-0 win against Vietnam, led by Sophia Smith’s historic brace in her World Cup debut.

The reigning NWSL MVP scored the fastest goal of the tournament to this point, putting the ball in the net in the 13th minute of the match at at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. She added another in stoppage time at the end of the first half, which made her the youngest USWNT player with a multi-goal game in her World Cup debut. And then she had an assist on the third and final goal of the game.

Every minute of that game was fun,” Smith told Fox Sports after the win. “I think it was a good place to start in this tournament… I’m happy with where we are, but I think we have a little more in us.”

Catch up on the top moments from the match below, and check out our USWNT goals tracker.

FINAL: USWNT 3, Vietnam 0

Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins appreciated USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski’s willingness to slot Julie Ertz at center back. She also liked what she saw from Savannah DeMelo in her first USWNT start.

Still, she noted the team’s trouble with finishing its chances in the final third, as well as its lack of urgency with a two-goal lead. While the USWNT pulled off the victory, the performance sets the team up “for a lot of pressure” in Wednesday’s match against the Netherlands, according to Watkins.

77′: Lindsey Horan extends USWNT lead to 3-0

The USWNT captain had come close several times already, and she finally hammered one home off an assist from Sophia Smith.

Smith added to her already impressive outing with a third goal contribution, making her just the second USWNT player to record at least three goal contributions in her World Cup debut. Sam Mewis had four (2 goals, 2 assists) in the USWNT’s 13-0 win against Thailand in 2019.

61′: Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle enter as substitutes

Rapinoe and Lavelle replaced Alex Morgan and Savannah DeMelo, respectively, midway through the second half.

Both substitutes are operating under minutes limits as they return from injuries, coach Vlatko Andonovski said ahead of the match. Lavelle had not played in a match since April due to a knee injury, while Rapinoe last played on June 10 due to a calf injury.

Alyssa Thompson entered as a substitute in the 75th minute, taking the place of Trinity Rodman. She becomes the second-youngest player (18 years, 257 days) to appear for the USWNT at a World Cup, behind only Tiffany Roberts (18 years, 32 days) in 1995. Just four teenagers have played for the USWNT at World Cup tournaments.

HALF: USWNT 2, Vietnam 0

Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins provided her analysis of the USWNT’s first 45 minutes of the tournament.

Savannah DeMelo impressed in the midfield in her first USWNT start (and just her second appearance). So did Trinity Rodman and Emily Fox, and of course Sophia Smith with her brace. The officiating… not so much.

45+7′: Sophia Smith scores again with VAR assist

The 22-year-old forward scored her second goal of the match in stoppage time to put the USWNT up 2-0. Despite an initial offside call, Smith was awarded the goal after a VAR check.

43′: Alex Morgan misses penalty kick after VAR review

Trinity Rodman went down inside the box, and the USWNT was awarded a penalty kick after a check with the video assistant referee (VAR). The call came after social media criticism of the officiating earlier in the first half, as several seemingly rough plays from Vietnam went without a whistle.

Alex Morgan took the penalty kick, but Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh blocked the low shot from the star striker.

13′: USWNT takes 1-0 lead on Sophia Smith strike

The reigning NWSL MVP scored to complete a slick passing sequence from Lindsey Horan to Alex Morgan to the 22-year-old forward. The goal stood as the fastest of the tournament to that point, and Morgan recorded her 50th career assist to move into a tie for ninth on the USWNT’s all-time list.

1′: Trinity Rodman goes down but stays in match

The 21-year-old forward fell to the turf as the result of a challenge from Tran Thi Thu. A stretcher came onto the pitch, but Rodman walked off under her own power, though she winced and looked to stretch her back as she did so. She quickly reentered the match.

Starting lineups: Savannah DeMelo gets nod for USWNT

  • United States
    • Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher
    • Defenders: Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Julie Ertz, Crystal Dunn
    • Midfielders: Savannah DeMelo, Andi Sullivan, Lindsey Horan
    • Forwards: Trinity Rodman, Alex Morgan, Sophia Smith
  • Vietnam
    • Goalkeeper: Tran Thi Kim Thanh
    • Defenders: Tran Thi Thu Thao, Luong Thi Thu Thuong, Tran Thi Hai Linh, Tran Thi Thu, Le Thi Diem My, Hoang Thi Loan
    • Midfielders: Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung, Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, Thai Thi Thao
    • Forward: Huynh Nhu

What to know about Vietnam

Vietnam will be playing its first World Cup match in team history against the USWNT — which could mean a rude welcome, if the two-time defending champions perform to expectations. But Vietnam put up a good fight in a narrow 2-1 loss to Germany in June. If the debutantes can show the same attacking prowess, the USWNT could have a tough time — especially with a young backline finding its World Cup footing.

What to know about the USWNT

When and how to watch

  • Friday, July 21 — 9 p.m. ET (Fox, Peacock, Telemundo)
    • United States vs. Vietnam (Eden Park, Auckland)

The USWNT will play three group-stage matches at the World Cup, one against each of its opponents in Group E.

Group E includes the team the United States beat in the 2019 World Cup final, the Netherlands. Still, USWNT legend Julie Foudy said the USWNT landed a “very winnable group.” Head coach Vlatko Andonovski isn’t convinced of that, though, as he’s touted it as “one of the hardest” groups in the tournament.

The opening match against Vietnam is available to watch on Fox and Telemundo. It also can be streamed via Peacock.