Sophia Smith shines for USWNT – Equalizer Soccer

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Ane Frosaker / SPP

Day three of the FIFA Women’s World Cup saw the United States open play against debutants Vietnam, Zambia take on Japan, England versus Haiti, and Denmark take on China.

Slept through it and need to know what the big story is? This is what happened on the second day of the World Cup.

This story will be updated as games finish.

Your bite-sized recap of Day 3 of the 2023 Women’s World Cup

United States 3, Vietnam 0

The Big Story: The United States did what they needed to do to get a 3-0 win over Vietnam in a chaotic and often very physical match. Still, some disconnected play and missed chances — including a missed penalty by Alex Morgan — show that the US still has some questions that need answering.

The Big Moment: Vietnam may have been the debutant nation, but World Cup debutant player Sophia Smith made a huge splash with a brace in the first half and an assist in the second half. Her first goal came in the 14th minute when she latched onto a backheel pass from Alex Morgan to send in a low left-footed shot. The goal showcased exactly how good the US can look when they’re clicking.

What It Means: As expected, the United States won comfortably. They dominated possession with 66% and got off 28 shots with 7 on goal while keeping Vietnam from getting off a single shot during the entire match. There are some strong positive takeaways for the United States in this match. Smith scoring a brace is a major positive. The fact Savannah DeMelo earned her first start with the US in this match and looked completely at home bodes well for the team, as does the fact that Julie Ertz put in a strong shift as a center-back. Rose Lavelle also came in as a substitute to earn her first competitive minutes in over three months and looked just as sharp as ever.

On the less positive side for the US is the fact that they looked more disconnected and even overwhelmed at times. A lot of work was done to get the ball into the box, but crosses were often sent too late. Passes didn’t connect as often as they should. Even with their dominance in possession and in shots taken, there was more scrambling after the ball than they would probably like. Alex Morgan missing a penalty kick at the end of the first half was also a low point for the US, although this seems to be on-trend for this World Cup. A penalty has been awarded in every match played so far but strangely enough only two have been converted. To be clear, there was nothing that seemed like a red flag for the United States, but they definitely want to play a cleaner match against the Netherlands this Wednesday.

For Vietnam, this game was a mixed bag. The results could have been much, much worse if not for the heroics of goalkeeper Trần Thị Kim Thanh who was unquestionably the MVP of the match. In addition to her saving Morgan’s penalty kick, she also stopped solid shots from Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, and Smith on several occasions. While they can celebrate the fact they weren’t blown out in this match, the fact they couldn’t even muster a single shot all match is a definite point of concern.

– Becky Morgan

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