Sophia Smith had two goals and assisted on another in her FIFA World Cup debut to lead the United States Women’s National team to a 3-0 victory over Vietnam to open their cup campaign in New Zealand.
The 22-year-old Smith opened the scoring in the 14th minute when she was played into the box on a flick from Alex Morgan and megged Vietnam keeper Thi Kim Thanh Tran with the finish.
Smith made it 2-0 before the half when a ball fell to her in the box in stoppage time and she hit a shot through traffic that deflected in. The play was initially ruled offside but was awarded after video review.
The video review was the second favorable to the U.S. in the closing minutes of the first half. Trinity Rodman, who was dangerous in her World Cup debut attacking down the right flank, was tripped in the box. Alex Morgan’s ensuing penalty kick, however, was saved in the 43rd minute.
Captain Lindsay Horan added a third goal in the 77th minute when she made a late run into the box and buried a pass back from Smith. Horan had a chance to get on the scoresheet in the 51st minute when Rodman played her a lovely cross but her attempt went wide of the target.
Smith was one of multiple players on the night to make their World Cup debut ended up being a shoo-in for the VISA Player of the Match.
“I feel relieved because I was a bit anxious going into the tournament, so it’s nice to have a win under our belts,” she said in a post-game interview. “It’s so exciting to be at this World Cup. Every moment today was fun and the crowd was amazing. I think this has been a good way to start but I know we have more to give.”
By the end of the match, eight USA players made their Women’s World Cup debuts – Savannah DeMelo (who also made her first USWNT start), Girma, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan, Smith, Rodman, 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson and Sofia Huerta. At 18 years and 257 days, Thompson became the second youngest player to appear for the U.S. in a World Cup and the fourth teenager to do so. Tiffany Roberts (18 years and 32 days) appeared against China PR in 1995.
The U.S. play The Netherlands next on Wednesday in a rematch of the 2019 final.
“We want to win every match, so it’s one down and now we move on to the next,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “We created a lot of opportunities and wanted to score more goals, but it is what it is. Hopefully we can improve on that and bring some of the good things we did today when we play the Netherlands. We take everything game by game and that [match against the Dutch] is now our focus.”
Wednesday’s match kicks off at 9 p.m. eastern time (FOX, Telemundo, Universo and Peacock).