“Are you going to crush us like against Thailand four years ago?”
United States manager Vlatko Andonovski paused for a moment before answering the question from a Vietnamese reporter ahead of his team’s 2023 World Cup opener against Vietnam. He answered with tact, and plenty of coach speak, taking care to highlight the USWNT’s “respect for the team and for the coach”.
Even with that respect, the U.S. found predictable early success against Vietnam in an 3-0 win. The scoreline never even approached that of the 13-0 win over Thailand from 2019, but it was an utterly dominant performance. Just 14 minutes into the match, Sophia Smith broke through the opposing backline and beat the opposing goalkeeper with a lovely strike from inside the box.
The United States never looked back.
Truthfully, there was always going to be a gap between the USWNT and Vietnam in their group stage meeting on Friday evening, U.S. time. Andonovski knew it. The reporter knew it. The players knew it. Given the United States’ status as tournament favorites and Vietnam’s as World Cup debutantes, the question for the U.S. in this game had more to do with the margin of victory rather than victory itself.
While the comfortable result wasn’t a surprise on its own, there were still a few surprises over the course of the game. Here are some of the most interesting and unexpected things we learned about the United States as they kicked off their summer campaign.