The U.S. women’s national team, for the first time in 13 straight World Cup games, did not win on Wednesday night. Instead, they tied the Netherlands 1-1, which makes the math for advancing a bit more complicated.

The last time the USWNT tied a game in the World Cup group stage (against Sweden in 2015), they went on to win the World Cup. But in order to do that this year in New Zealand, they need to advance — and that’s not as clear-cut as it was 24 hours ago.

The USWNT needs just a point to qualify, but ideally want to win their group. They’ve done so in seven of eight World Cup appearances, finishing second in 2011, and they’ve never before been knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage.

Here are all of the scenarios facing the USWNT in their final group-stage match against Portugal on Tuesday (3 a.m. ET, FOX).

How the USWNT wins Group E

  • If they beat Portugal, and the Netherlands don’t overtake them on goal differential. Currently, the USWNT holds a +3 goal differential, compared to the Netherlands at +1. The Netherlands would have to score two more goals in a win over Vietnam than the USWNT does in a win over Portugal.
  • If the USWNT draws Portugal, and Vietnam manages to draw the Netherlands by any scoreline. (Reminder: Draws cancel out goal differential, which is goals scored minus goals conceded).
  • If the USWNT draws Portugal, and Vietnam beats the Netherlands.

How the USWNT advances if they don’t win the group

  • If they win OR draw Portugal. With Portugal currently sitting on three points and the USWNT four, a draw would result in the USWNT having five points and Portugal four. Regardless of the Netherlands’ result, the USWNT would advance.
  • If they lose to Portugal, they can still advance if Vietnam wins or draws the Netherlands and the USWNT holds a favorable tiebreaker.
  • If they lose to Portugal, and the Netherlands also lose to Vietnam, then the USWNT will advance — unless they lose by more than 2+ goals and the Netherlands lose by a lesser number. Then, the goal differential will favor the Netherlands and they will advance alongside Portugal.

If the USWNT loses to Portugal, they will not advance if the Netherlands draw or win against Vietnam.

The U.S. women’s national team won its 2023 World Cup opener 3-0 against Vietnam, a far cry from its 13-0 victory against Thailand to kick off the 2019 tournament.

For 2019 World Cup champion Abby Dahlkemper, though, the narrower margin of victory should not be a knock on the USWNT but rather a sign of the growth of the women’s game.

Vietnam proved “a little bit tougher than people expected,” noted Dahlkemper. The 30-year-old defender is missing the World Cup with a back injury, but she still is following the team, and she shared her thoughts with USWNT teammate Midge Purce and sports broadcaster Katie Nolan on the the second episode of Just Women’s Sports’ World Cup show “The 91st.”

“I thought their goalkeeper came up multiple times with pretty good saves,” Dahlkemper said, while defensively Vietnam was “pretty structured and disciplined.”

Still, getting a few goals on the scoresheet and having Alyssa Naeher get a clean sheet under her belt helps with momentum as the USWNT prepares to face the Netherlands at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, she said.

And while some pundits compared Vietnam to Thailand ahead of the World Cup opener, Vietnam is a different team and women’s soccer is in a much different place than in 2019.

The latter point has been underscored in several group-stage games so far. France tied 0-0 with Jamaica. England eked out a 1-0 win against Haiti. Sweden needed a last-minute winner against South Africa.

“I think, just as a whole, you can see even from the beginning of this tournament just the evolution of women’s soccer,” Dahlkemper said. “Every country is getting better, and they’re investing in women, some of them. But these countries like Vietnam came in and did really well and put up a good fight.”

Players from up-and-coming contenders also are making splashes in the club scene. Jamaica’s Khadija Shaw plays for Manchester City in England’s Women’s Super League, and Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala is a star for Barcelona.

“When we played Thailand, I’m not sure many of them even had teams to play on or were playing professionally,” Dahlkemper continued. “So I think that’s a huge thing as well, just to be able to get regular games in.”

Teams such as the Philippines, which is the first from its country to reach the World Cup, have elicited joyous fan reactions. And New Zealand secured its first World Cup win in history in front of a record crowd on home soil.

“It’s exciting to see the evolution of the women’s game, and it’s growing,” Dahlkemper said. “Even an upset, Norway losing to New Zealand in the opening game, it’s exciting to see.”

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.

Back in 2019, the U.S. women’s national team took down Thailand in record fashion in its World Cup opener, winning with a final score of 13-0.

The scoreline — and the many goal celebrations — were met with criticism and questions of sportsmanship. Had the USWNT gone too far with its celebrations? Should the team have stopped scoring?

In the first episode of Just Women’s Sports’ World Cup show “The 91st,” injured USWNT forward Midge Purce and sports broadcaster Katie Nolan discussed that win – and the conversation that ensued. For Purce, the argument is simple: The narrative surrounding the score line was unnecessary, and she hopes the USWNT can replicate the feat against Vietnam in its 2023 World Cup opener.

“If you want somebody to play with that kind of intensity and energy all the time, you can’t be like, tone it down,” Nolan said. “They either bring it or they don’t, and they brought it. I also think it’s kind of pandering to a team to be like, their feelings are hurt. It’s like no they came here for the World Cup.”

“That was the craziest narrative for people to talk about,” Purce agreed. “When people are upset about the celebrations, I didn’t really care. I was like, ‘I don’t care that you’re upset. I don’t care that they celebrated. Great. Fantastic.’ When they were upset about running up the score I said, ‘Shut up, shut up, you have to be kidding me.’ You’re on one of the greatest sports stages in the world and you don’t want to run up the score?

“If I could score 30 goals on the same keeper, I would do it, and I wouldn’t hesitate for any of them. It’s sports and it’s ruthless and you pick yourself up and you dust yourself off and you go again. So I hope they run up the score. I hope they can.”

Nolan agreed, noting that if a player scores a goal in the World Cup they “should celebrate.”

“I don’t think anything they did was really that disrespectful,” she said. “I hate that conversation in general across sports where it’s like, don’t be proud of the difficult thing you did that everybody watching could never have done, could never have dreamed of doing. Because I know if I scored a goal in the World Cup my shirt’s probably coming off.”

Even still, the duo offered up “thoughts and also prayers” for Vietnam, who will be playing in their first World Cup game ever – and doing so against the United States.

“Imagine being on Vietnam and finding out that your very first World Cup match of your life as a team is against the United States,” Nolan said.

Former U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis joined Christen Press and Tobin Heath to discuss who she thinks her successor should start on the attack in Friday’s World Cup opener.

The USWNT kicks off its 2023 World Cup campaign at 9 p.m. ET Friday against Vietnam. While a number of players seemingly have solidified their spots in the starting lineup, the forward line includes at least one question mark.

Press and Heath, who played on the 2015 and 2019 World Cup-winning squads, are producing and hosting “The RE-CAP Show” throughout this year’s tournament. Veteran forwards themselves, both players are dealing with injuries that kept them off this year’s roster. Ellis, who coaches the USWNT to its two most two World Cup titles, joined her former players for the first episode of their show.

The USWNT’s forward pool includes Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Alyssa Thompson and Lynn Williams. Rapinoe has acknowledged her role as a bench player in the lead-up to the tournament, while Morgan and Smith look like clear-cut starters. That leaves one forward slot remaining in the lineup.

“We know that it’s going to be Alex and Soph, and then we have a big decision on the other side,” Heath said.

So who would Ellis put in her starting XI against Vietnam?

“I would probably play — obviously Alex central, I’d play Soph, and I’d play Trinity,” Ellis said. “I think Trinity is a player that’s evolving. I think she’s got an incredible passing game that we don’t see that much. She can pick out and thread balls… That’s the three I would go with.”

Still, Ellis, Press and Heath all were quick to point out the importance of both starting and bench roles, especially since rotating lineups are the rule at the World Cup to rest players’ legs and adjust team strategies.

“Every single player, whether a game changer or starter, got all the same information,” Ellis said of the 2019 tournament. “It was flawless. When Pinoe was out, you came in, it was just flawless, because everybody who I think was afforded the same information and trust.”

Press and Heath debated earlier in the episode whether it is easier to start a match or to come on as a substitute. Heath, who started six of seven matches at the 2019 World Cup, finds it easier to start a game.

“I think it’s a million times easier to start a game,” Heath said. “You’re more prepared, you know exactly your routine. Even if you talk about how you prepare, you know you’re going to be starting, you know how you want to fuel your body for the game you can psychologically prepare.”

As a substitute, players need to be prepared to take on “whatever role is needed,” according to Heath, which is what makes it so difficult.

“Knowing that you are that player that’s first off the bench, especially as an attacker, you don’t know if the team’s gonna need a goal. You don’t know if you’re going to be defending for your life. You don’t know if there’s going to have been a red card,” Heath added. “You are emotionally playing out the game [while] physically and literally warming up all the time.”

On the other hand, Press believes being a starter is the harder job; she started in one group-stage match and the semifinal in 2019, but she entered as a substitute in other matches.

Coming off the bench “is easier because when you come on as a game changer you have a very, very clear role and expectation on what you need to do,” she said. “If you’re defending a lead, if you are down and trying to score, if you are going to have a certain role in set pieces. When you start a game you have all of your expectations of how you want that game to go.”

Press did have one big moment as a starter back in 2019, when she was named to the starting lineup against England for the semifinal match. She scored just nine minutes into the match to give the USWNT an early lead, and the team held on for a 2-1 win.

Still, while that goal stands out as her big moment, she thrived a substitute for most of the tournament.

“The reality is you almost never get what you want. It almost always goes awry. When I came in in big games and I did my job, I felt valued. I felt seen. And I felt like I knew exactly how to execute on a very specific task,” Press said. “The whole world of football gets condensed down into 10 minutes of a performance and you do your freaking job. You could do anything for 10 minutes. You could do anything in the world for the limited position that you have and in order to do it well you have to let go of all your expectations. It’s not me me me, and as a starting player you’re managing your ego the whole game.”

While Heath tried to argue that bench players often are called upon to take penalty kicks after starters are subbed out of the match, a negative in her book, Press had a simple retort.

“It’s such a breeze taking penalties,” she said.

As the U.S. women’s national team prepares for the 2023 World Cup, Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at its opponents — including its three group-stage adversaries and its likely matchups in the knockout rounds.

Next up: Vietnam.

Manager: Mai Duc Chung

Mai Duc Chung is a former player who has had several stints as the manager of the Vietnam women’s team, the first back in 1997, when he served as the squad’s first coach. He started his current stint in 2016, coaching the team to four Southeast Asian Games gold medals since then. He also led the team to a quarterfinal finish at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which helped Vietnam clinch its spot in the 2023 World Cup.

Key player: Huynh Nhu

Huynh Nhu is one of Vietnam’s most veteran players, with 67 goals through 103 international appearances. She is the team’s all-time leading scorer and captain. She also is the first Vietnamese women’s footballer to play professionally in Europe, signing with Portuguese club Vilaverdense in 2022.

So far in 2023, she has five goals through eight appearances. Last year was one of her best campaigns to date, with 11 goals through 18 appearances. The 21-year-old Nguyen Thi Thanh Nha, who scored against Germany and was named as FIFA’s one to watch this summer, also is worth watching.

World Cup history

This will be Vietnam’s first Women’s World Cup appearance. The team is currently ranked 32nd in the world by FIFA.

Group stage schedule

Vietnam will play in Group E alongside the USWNT, Portugal and the Netherlands. Take a look at the schedule below, and check out the full World Cup schedule.

  • Friday, July 21 – 9 p.m. (Fox)
    • Vietnam vs. USWNT
  •  Thursday, July 27 – 3:30 a.m. (FS1)
    • Vietnam vs. Portugal
  •  Tuesday, Aug. 1 – 3 a.m. (FS1)
    • Vietnam vs. Netherlands

Keys to beat the USWNT

Vietnam could be a sneakily tricky team for the USWNT, as evidenced by the squad’s narrow 2-1 loss to Germany in June. Vietnam followed that up with a 2-0 loss to New Zealand, which snapped the Football Ferns’ 10-match winless streak. The team next faces Spain on July 13 before beginning its World Cup journey against the USWNT.

Vietnam’s attacking power was on full display against Germany. And in a 2-0 win over Myanmar in the Southeast Asian Games final, the Vietnamese players consistently pulled apart the defense. While the USWNT’s defense is more formidable, it is also young. Even a seemingly small mistake could put Vietnam in a position to get on the scoresheet.

The fact that Vietnam is unknown to the USWNT — with the two teams never having played before — could work in the underdog’s favor. Plus, Vietnam has played nine matches together before the World Cup begins.

In contrast, the USWNT has played eight matches in 2023. But with roster shake-ups due to injury, the USWNT from January looks decidedly different than the one playing in July. Cohesiveness for the U.S. is not a new concern, but Vietnam still could take advantage.