USA v Vietnam: Women’s World Cup 2023 Group E – live | Women’s World Cup 2023

Key events

Halftime: USA 2-0 Vietnam

Not a surprising scoreline, and the US is dominating play as expected, but that gift of a goal is leaving a bad taste.

Time to hit the fridge. Happy to take comments at the half.

GOAL: USA 2-0 Vietnam (Smith 45+7)

That’s ridiculous. Morgan was in an offside position. She interfered with play.

During the half, I’ll see if any refs can justify that call.

45 mins +7: It’s in the net, somehow, but it doesn’t matter. The ball is played ahead to Morgan, who’s just a tiny bit offside. There’s a scramble, and the ball rolls past several prone players into the net.

VAR is looking. And looking. Are we sure the VAR didn’t run to the concessions to beat the crowd?

The flag was up, and it seems correctly so.

45 mins +6: Vietnam suddenly turns up the press, as if sensing they could get a shock equalizer before halftime. Or at least a shot. They don’t have one yet.

45 mins +5: Smith races down the left. She has Horan open to her right but opts to play it herself. It’s deflected … and well saved in the end.

Off the ensuing corner, Morgan tries a clever backheel shot. It nearly works. That would’ve been my favorite of all the goals she’s scored at this level.

45 mins +4: From the BigSoccer referee forum, a critique of our center ref: “I’d call her whole vibe similar to a 14 year old grassroots promoted from U8 to handle a competitive U19 game because no one else was around.”

Hey, I’ve been there.

The ball spends a bit of time near midfield for a change.

45 mins +2: We’ll play at least eight extra minutes.

Naeher has to come off her line to clear the ball. Well, maybe didn’t have to, but she takes advantage of an opportunity to stay fresh.

44 mins: PENALTY SAVE! Good for you, Kim Tranh, getting down low to pounce on an uncharacteristically weak kick from Morgan, similar to what we saw from Christine Sinclair last night. Morgan is so stunned that she fails to get to a wide-open rebound.

Morgan is down after a scramble in the box, but she seems OK.

43 mins: PENALTY. Yeah, I guess, maybe.

Can I say I’m not a fan of having the ref announce calls to the stadium? I know they’re trying to make it all hip and cool like cricket’s replays, but it just puts the ref in the unfortunate position of showing off her limited English.

41 mins: This is a long check. After an interminable wait, the referee is summoned to look for herself.

Fox analyst Joe Machnik says the question is whether the defender made contact with the ball first and then the foot. The defender didn’t wipe out Rodman by any means.

I think the tiebreaker here is that it’s the USA; therefore, a penalty will be awarded.

39 mins: Dunn intercepts at midfield, and we’re back the other way. Rodman once again works her magic on the flank, getting into the box, and … she falls. Was that a foul? Well, unlike some of the other calls we’ve seen here, there was at least some contact. VAR is checking.

37 mins: Ertz returns after being checked out on the sideline.

Vietnam gets within 30 yards of the US goal for the first time. They then press Girma, a solid but inexperienced center back, and force goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to touch the ball for what I believe is the first time. It’s not much of an attack, but it’s something.

35 mins: Off the free kick, Ertz tries an awkward header, and the ball actually bounces back up into her own head. She stays down. The ref doesn’t blow the whistle. The US doesn’t play the ball out to tend to their player. Concussion-safety advocate Taylor Twellman is surely screaming at his TV somewhere.

34 mins: Smith tries the Maradona-esque 360 and wins a corner kick.

Meanwhile in Miami, Messi and Busquets have entered the game. Might be able to catch the last 15 minutes of that game when this one’s at halftime.

32 mins: Neil Dee writes to inform me that the player who flicked the ball to Smith on the goal was Alex Morgan, in which case I retract what I said about Morgan having a quiet game thus far.

31 mins: Vietnam tries to press Dunn, but a player falls, and we go back the other way. Long ball ahead to Ertz, who’s making a dangerous foray forward. It’s only partially cleared, and Horan is able to shoot. Wide.

29 mins: And another change for Morgan … scratch that, she’s offside.

Back to keepaway we go. Ertz then goes long for Horan – well spotted between the two veteran teammates, but Horan can’t get a good shot out of it.

28 mins: CHANCE for Alex Morgan, timing a run very well but not settling a pass from DeMelo as well as she would’ve liked. She still gets off a shot, but it rolls wide of the far post.

26 mins: It’s an extended spell of keepaway. To say the US can afford to be patient is an understatement.

23 mins: Halfway through the half, and it’s what you’d expect. Vietnam can’t get the ball into the US third. They’ve completed 28 passes to the USA’s 92, according to Fifa’s stats. The US women have been slightly disjointed, understandable given all the injury-prompted changes to the lineup this year, but they’ve got one and forced a good save as well.

22 mins: Free kick US, and the ref wants it retaken so she can stop and have a word with a Vietnamese player or two.

Mary Waltz: “I noticed you are particularly aware of the international football disease of diving, flopping. In the NBA when it became a pandemic of flopping, see Vlade Divac, the league began reviewing flops post game and started fining egregious offenders on a rising scale. Didn’t eliminate the disease but it did cut it down.”

Vlade made some funny commercials. Maybe I’ll dig one up at halftime.

More possession for the US, and Alex Morgan, who has been quiet so far, has a touch.

20 mins: Trinity Rodman is dominating on the right attacking flank. Another good cross from her lands at the feet of DeMelo, but the national-team newbie can’t get enough on it.

Huynh Nhu has apparently realized that this ref buys minimal-contact fouls if you hit the ground, and she draws a free kick. As a very, very low-level ref myself, I don’t like to criticize, but this is a very, very low bar fo a “foul.”

And guess who just played in another dangerous ball?

18 mins: Hello to Peter Oh: “What is the design of the USA shirt called? Half-hearted Jackson Pollock? Fountain pen accident?”

I know I shouldn’t like that shirt, but I do. Of course, I liked the denim stars of the 1994 men’s shirt, so I have no taste.

Andi Sullivan is undeterred by the paint scheme on her shirt.
Andi Sullivan is undeterred by the paint scheme on her shirt. Photograph: Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images

17 mins: So, after conceding a goal, will we see Vietnam press more? We will not.

Horan tries to draw another foul. To quote Luther Mahoney, “Who … are … you … fooling?”

GOAL! USA 1-0 Vietnam (Smith 15)

Maybe don’t play so deep, because the midfield just carved them up.

It’s a brilliant flick by an unidentified US midfielder because Fox (the network, not the defender) couldn’t see who it was, and the action happens too fast in the replay.

Then it’s a simple but well-taken finish by the young Sophia Smith.

14 mins: Aly Wagner points out that Vietnam is playing deep. Like, really deep.

11 mins: The referee awards a corner to the US but correctly changes the call. The ball obviously came off Horan.

Vietnam plays forward but only as far as Ertz, who has demonstrated time and time again, in the center of the backline or the midfield, that she is not someone who lets play get past her easily.

10 mins: Crystal Dunn has the ball in space, which is surely not something Vietnam wants to see. She’s a left back who has played nearly everywhere on the field and is a nifty attacker.

Long possession for the US leads to a wayward cross from Fox.

8 mins: A couple of nice moments for Vietnam in midfield, showing some possession skills. Hoang works along the sideline and gets dumped to the grass for her efforts.

DeMelo tries to draw a call, but she’s not as adept at selling minimal contact as Horan was a few minutes ago.

7 mins: CHANCE for Horan, and it’s well saved by Tran. The ball was in Rodman’s vicinity and popped free for the onrushing US midfielder.

And … never mind, none of that officially happened. Offside call? Seems unlikely. Foul?

5 mins: Nor does Vietnam’s set-piece taking inspire confidence. Emily Fox gets the ball with her arm, but the free kick at midfield lands in a thicket of US players.

4 mins: Horan expertly dives and gets a call for another free kick chance. Andi Sullivan takes it well, playing it to Ertz to flick on. Was someone supposed to run on to it? In any case – Vietnam’s set-piece defense doesn’t inspire confidence.

2 mins: They bring out the stretcher for Rodman, who declines it. Unless she hit her head, she’s going to be back in.

Free kick that the US tries to take quickly, and Vietnam gets in the way. You’re really not supposed to do that, they tells us refs.

Ball played forward to Horan, but several flicks of the ball result in no shot, and she was probably offside anyway.

Trinity Rodman is slow to get up after an early knock.
Trinity Rodman is slow to get up after an early knock. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Kickoff

The referee is Bouchra Karboubi, who toys with everyone by letting a few seconds elapse after the PA-system countdown.

And just a few seconds in, Trinity Rodman is down in pain after falling backwards while challenging with Tran.

Anthem time, and for those who scrutinize every player to death, note that Lindsey Horan (the captain) was the only one visibly singing along. I’m more worried about Alyssa Naeher, who looked like she was in some distress.

Vietnamese players and fans cheerily sing along with their anthem.

This is rather somber entrance music, isn’t it? I feel like a Marvel character is dying.

Meanwhile in Miami, Messi is sedentary.

First half. Still on the bench.

David Anstaett checks in from slightly closer to New Zealand than I am: “Ready to watch in Maui, Hawaii. Do we know Rose’s timetable? Is she expected to get some minutes today? Making a first appearance since April against the Netherlands seems like jumping into the deep end.”

That’s a good point, and I’m sure she’ll get a few minutes if at all possible.

Good evening to Mary Waltz: “Beau, greetings from California. It’s a great night for Football. The US will win but their will not be a 13-0, nor a 20-nil outcome tonight. Spain had 45 shots on goal but only scored 3 goals, I envision a few more goals but a similar match. Instead of watching the Horrid Fox pre game nationalistic agit prop(I love our team but gawd Fox over does the USA vs the world crap) I am watching Messi’s new vacation team play Cruz Azul until the USA match starts.”

I’ll say the US nets six.

One Vietnam goal wouldn’t completely shock me, given the lack of time the US defenders have played together. If the USWNT was opening against, say, the Netherlands, that could be a problem. But they’ll likely be settled by the time the games truly matter.

Kurt Perleberg asks: “If the USWNT can win group E can they defeat Italy Sweden Spain & Australia/Brazil/England to win their third consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup?”

Yes. They can. But they might not.

Most oddsmakers have them around +225 or +250, which is more than 2-1 against. Those are the best odds for any team in the tournament. The problem is that there are so many teams that could win it.

Vietnam lineup

GK: Thi Kim Tranh Tran

D: Thi Thu Thuong Luong, Thi The Tran, Thi Loan Hoang, Thi Diem My Le, Thi Thu Thao Tran

M: Thi Tuyet Dung Nguyen, Thi Hai Linh Tran, Thi Thao Thai, Thi Bich Thuy Nguyen

F: Huynh Nhu

US lineup

Stunner in midfield – Savannah DeMelo, a surprise inclusion on the roster given her grand total of zero appearances for the team, starts.

Julie Ertz, who fought her way back into shape to make this roster, is listed at defense.

GK: Alyssa Naeher

D: Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, Naomi Girma, Emily Fox

M: Andi Sullivan, Lindsey Horan, Savannah DeMelo

F: Trinity Rodman, Alex Morgan, Sophia Smith

Rose Lavelle is working her way back into fitness. Megan Rapinoe is slated for a supersub role, in case you were wondering.

Meet Savannah DeMelo.
Meet Savannah DeMelo. Photograph: Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

Carli Lloyd, commenting on Fox, expressed some envy over the suits the US women wore to the game.

Personally, I keep expecting the players to tell me that the nearest emergency exit might be behind me.

Trinity Rodman checks out the field.
Trinity Rodman checks out the field. Photograph: Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images

Preamble

Last night, I opened by saying we were looking at a potential upset. Nigeria had the firepower and the experience to compete with Canada. That turned out to be the case, which I mention because I don’t always get my predictions right.

Tonight?

We’re not looking at a potential upset here. Anything less than a five-goal win would be a shocker. The biggest suspense in this game might be whether the US manages to show some restraint in its celebrations this time around, unlike the game against Thailand last time around.

That’s not me indulging in a rare bit of American arrogance. Eventually, we’ll have a 32-team Women’s World Cup with more parity than we have now. We’re not there yet.

Can we point to anything that gives Vietnam a chance at making a game of it? Yes. Let’s point to Minh Chien Tu’s team guide:

“Vietnam will play on the counterattack. The strength of this side is that they possess a pair of fast wingers in Tuyet Dung and Thanh Nha, and an agile striker who is also a good finisher, Huynh Nhu.”

And the US has fullbacks who aren’t that young any more.

So … maybe?

We interrupt here with breaking news …

Fox’s on-site crew brought out a furry native animal, intending to have it pick a winner of the World Cup by hopping toward either “USA” or “The World.”

It did neither.

It stayed where it was.

And pooped.

On that note – how’s everyone doing this fine summer/winter day/night?

Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Jeff Kassouf’s lookahead to the USWNT’s opening match against Vietnam.