Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeSportThe USA team opens the World Cup with a victory over Vietnam

The USA team opens the World Cup with a victory over Vietnam

AUKLAND, New Zealand (AP) – Sophia Smith scored twice for the United States in the first half and the two-time defending champions kicked off the Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 win over Vietnam for the first time in the tournament on Saturday.

Lindsey Horan added a goal for the favored Americans, who have won four World Cups overall and are vying for an unprecedented three-peat at this year’s tournament.

Vietnam drew comparisons to Thailand, the team the Americans beat 3-0 in their opening game of the 2019 World Cup. But Vietnam were surprisingly resilient, keeping the game closer than expected and goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh stopping Alex Morgan’s penalty attempt in the first half.

Morgan collapsed on the field clutching her calf after trying to recover the missed penalty, but she quickly bounced back. It was only her second penalty kick loss for the United States.

Smith, one of 14 Americans to play in their first World Cup, showed why she was named the USA Soccer Player of the Year and National Women’s Soccer League MVP last year with her two first-half goals.

Smith scored off a pass from captain Lindsey Horan in the 14th minute. Smith and Horan celebrated with a choreographed handshake after the goal. She scored again in first-half stoppage time to make it 2-0 at the break. The United States were initially flagged for offside before a video review confirmed the goal.

The American team was loaded with young talent, including Smith and Trinity Rodman, after settling for a disappointing bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Among the veterans, 38-year-old Megan Rapinoe made her 200th international appearance against Vietnam.

Rapinoe, who scored in the World Cup final in France and was named the best player of that tournament, did not start. She announced before the team left for New Zealand that this would be her last World Cup and that she would retire from her professional team at the end of the season.

Rapinoe and midfielder Rose Lavelle, who were both limited by injuries on the eve of the tournament, both came on as substitutes in the 63rd minute. Rapinoe had bright blue hair.

The youngest player on the team, 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, was also a second-half signee.

Horan scored into an open net off a pass from Smith, who raced past the keeper and deftly tipped the ball back to her. Horan, who recently got engaged, kissed her ring at the party.

There was early drama when Rodman, the daughter of former NBA great Dennis Rodman and one of the young players on the team, appeared hurt after landing hard on her back when tackled by defenseman Tran Thi Thu. Rapinoe warmed up on the court and a stretcher was brought out, but Rodman stood and returned to the game moments later.

Saturday’s game was the first meeting between the United States and Vietnam. The Vietnamese lost two pre-tournament exhibition matches and went down 9-0 to Spain in a closed-door match in Auckland last Friday.

Also in Group E are the Netherlands and Portugal, who meet on Sunday in Dunedin. Portugal are also making their first World Cup appearance.

The group play all their matches in New Zealand, which is co-hosting the tour with Australia. The United States play the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2019 final Thursday in Wellington.

If the United States top the group, the team will travel to Sydney for the round of 16.

At his home in the United States, a sign was erected on the North Lawn of the White House that read “Go Team USA! We’re all behind you.”

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