Jeff Carlisle, US soccer correspondent July 21, 2023, 11:18 PM ET
CloseJeff Carlisle covers MLS and the US national team for ESPN FC.
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The US women’s national team got the expected result, though perhaps not the margin of victory anticipated, beating Vietnam 3-0 in the team’s 2023 FIFA World Cup opener. Sophie Smith scored twice in the first half and Lindsey Horan added a third on a day when the US defense was not fazed.
Smith scored the opener in the 14th minute, finishing through the legs of Vietnam keeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh after he was brought on thanks to the sacking of Alex Morgan. Morgan should have added to the US scoreline, but a 44th-minute penalty was saved by Tran. It was up to Smith to extend the Americans’ lead, scoring deep into first-half stoppage time when he fired home after a weak hitting attempt by Tran.
The US maintained their territorial dominance in the second half, and finally broke through in the 77th minute with Smith assisting Lindsey Horan’s goal.
This is how individual performance is stacked.
Player rating (0-10; 10=best; 5=average. Players introduced after 70 minutes are not ranked.)
GK Alyssa Naeher, 6 — She touched the ball four times in the first half. That pretty much concludes a stress free day.
Smith scored twice and set up a third as the US wrapped up a 3-0 win over Vietnam in their 2023 World Cup opener. SEEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images
DF Emily Fox, 5 — Defended her team quite well but needs to be sharper in attack. Missed a great chance in the 66th minute when he fired over the bar from close range.
DF Julie Ertz, 7 – Not sharp on the ball early on but then holds her own in terms of passing. Is his usual physical strength behind.
DF Naomi Girma, 8 — Calm and on the ball, and put her pace to good use to quell some of the attacks Vietnam could pull off. His long diagonal cross created problems for Vietnam, creating a scramble before Smith’s second goal.
DF Crystal Dunn, 6 – Was a factor going forward and should do more than that, especially with Smith not always connecting well with teammates.
MF Savannah DeMelo, 5 — A mixed bag. Does a lot of good work defensively, but in attack it’s a different story. He put Morgan in the back of the net with a sharp pass, but he didn’t quite have the ball and needed to have more impact.
MF Andi Sullivan, 6 — Defended the US offense and won the ball back when he needed it. Lead the team with 16 defensive interventions.
MF Lindsey Horan, 7 — Was a bit inconsistent in the first half. Forcing problems through the middle too often but had a hand in Smith’s opener. Heats up a bit more in the second half and then provides a capper which could prove critical if goal difference decides the group.
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FW Trinity Rodman, 6 — Wiped out early punches to become a real force in the first half and earned a penalty late in the first half. Faded a bit after halftime.
FW Alex Morgan, 5 — Showed his quality with a deft touch that set the table for Smith’s opener but missed a penalty earned by Rodman.
FW Sophia Smith, 8 — Expectations were high for Smith going into the tournament and she largely succeeded, picking up her goal well. Although he was not at his best in terms of link-up play, he made important plays, including assisting Horan’s crucial third goal.
FW Megan Rapinoe, 5 (for Morgan, 63″) — Her 200th appearance in a US shirt, a fantastic milestone for such an iconic player. Had a great chance to mark her appearance with a goal but fired over in the 71st minute.
MF Rose Lavelle, 6 (to DeMelo, 63″) — USA’s offense increased once she entered the game, and she hit the bar late, but the best news is that she made it onto the court. The US will need her later.
FW Alyssa Thompson, N/R (for Rodman, 75″) — An unforgettable day for the 18 year old. She also brought a lot of energy to the court.
DF Kelley O’Hara, N/R (active for Dunn, 84″) — The veteran took to the court for a late game cameo and tough tackle.
DF Sofia Huerta, N/R (active for Fox, 84″) — Noticeably underwhelming in her short stint.