The Women’s World Cup is finally here, and the USWNT looks to make it three tournament wins in a three-tournament span. Several teams have already played but it is now time for the USWNT to take the stage. They will be aiming to make history and to do something never done before. The USWNT begins that World Cup title defense against Vietnam on Friday.
United States squad
The roster called in for this tournament by manager Vlatko Andonovski features a healthy mix of experienced veterans and young, up-and-coming talent. In goal is Alyssa Naeher who has 91 caps and started every game for the US four years ago in France.
In the field, six of the players have amassed triple-digit appearances for the US. Defenders Kelly O’Hara and Crystal Dunn have over a century. Then, midfielder Julie Ertz has 118 and Lindsey Horan has 129. Finally, the forwards lead the way with experience. Megan Rapinoe’s 199 caps are second to only Alex Morgan’s 207.
The flip side of that is that there are four field players who have fewer than 20 caps for the US. Those players are Naomi Girma (16 caps), midfielder Savannah DeMelo (1 cap), and forwards Alyssa Thompson (4 caps) and Trinity Rodman (18 caps).
Unfortunately, the US title defense will be missing one of their best players due to injury. Mallory Swanson suffered an injury back in April that will force her to miss this edition of the Women’s World Cup. Swanson is just one of several players from around the world who will be forced to miss this tournament due to injury.
USWNT begins World Cup defense against Vietnam
Late last year, the US suffered a little bit of a crisis in confidence. Between October 7 and November 10, the USWNT suffered its first three-game losing streak in well over 20 years. They lost both October games on the road in Europe against England and Spain. November got off to a rough start with a home loss to Germany. Fortunately, they haven’t lost since.
The Americans have won nine straight games. In those nine games, the United States scored a combined 21 goals while conceding only two (against Germany and Brazil). They won the She Believes Cup back in February, in large part due to the exploits of the now-injured Swanson.
Following the She Believes Cup they played a total of three home friendlies, though they did not get a true send-off series of games. In April was a pair of home wins over Women’s World Cup debutant Republic of Ireland and just a few days ago was a win over Wales.
Perhaps the most important part of the friendlies this year was a pair of wins against New Zealand in January. The important thing about that was both games were in New Zealand. The hope there is that they will be more prepared for what to expect during the US title defense.
It took something of a miracle run for the Women Gold Star Warriors to qualify for their first-ever Women’s World Cup. At the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup they were placed in Group C along with Japan, South Korea, and Myanmar. A third-place finish with a single, solitary point was enough to see them through to the quarter-finals where they were eliminated by China. But because they made the quarter-finals they went into a playoff group with Chinese Taipei and Thailand. This time, they finished top of the group with six points and qualified without the need for further playoffs.
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Vietnam’s form coming into this tournament has been somewhat impressive. They won the gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games by defeating Myanmar 2-0 in the final. They haven’t won since. However, their performances have shown promise. First was a narrow 2-1 loss against two-time champions Germany in Offenbach. And most recently was a 2-0 loss t tournament co-host New Zealand earlier this month.
The player to watch for the US is Vietnamese captain Huynh Nhu. At the age of 31, she amassed 67 goals in 103 career international appearances for her country. Her strike partner Pham Hai Yen could also pose problems for the US defense with 42 goals in 76 appearances.
The US game against Vietnam is set for a 9 p.m. ET kickoff on Friday evening. It will air on FOX in English as well as Telemundo and NBC Universo in Spanish. Coverage is available via streaming on Peacock, too.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus
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