Vietnam’s road to the World Cup

Vietnam qualified for the tournament via the Women’s Asian Cup last year. The Vietnamese were knocked out in the quarterfinals by China, putting them in a round-robin playoff. They then defeated Thailand and Taiwan. Both opponents were struggling with COVID-19 issues at the time.

“We will do our best to be able to bring the image of Vietnam to the world,” coach Mai Duc Chung said. «I hope this trip will be an inspiration for the development of Vietnamese football in the future.»

Soccer in Southeast Asia, especially women’s soccer, is underdeveloped compared to the world powerhouses of the sport. Vietnam’s first women’s national team was formed in 1997 and Huynh Nhu is the only player to compete outside of the country. She plays for Länk FC Vilaverdense of the most important soccer league in Portugal.

What is Eden Park like?

Team USA and Vietnam will meet at Eden Park, New Zealand’s National Stadium.

The Aukland Stadium is home to the New Zealand rugby union and cricket teams and has hosted both the Women’s Cricket World Cup and the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

In recent years, it has also hosted the Te Matatini Maori performing arts festival and competition, which celebrates the traditional art of kapa haka dance.

It is currently winter in New Zealand, and fans and players can expect a cloudy afternoon with highs in the mid-50s.

And they go…

The USA team heads onto the field.

The athletes set off for their match in their official custom World Cup suits, a collaboration between Nike and British-Jamaican designer Martine Rose.

Goalie who helped USA win last two World Cups says Team USA ‘will deliver’

Canada drew 0-0 with Nigeria

MELBOURNE, Australia — Olympic champion Canada drew Nigeria 0-0 in their Women’s World Cup the first goal after Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie made several key saves, including one from a Christine Sinclair penalty.

It was a crucial miss for Sinclair, the 40-year-old Canadian who is the all-time leading scorer in international soccer, men’s or women’s, with 190 goals. Aiming to be the oldest player to score at the Women’s World Cup, she also missed a chance in the 9th minute when she was unmarked on the edge of the box but missed.

Nnadozie, who plays in France for Paris FC, was voted Man of the Match.

President Biden: Chief Entertainer

In a video posted this morning, President Joe Biden encouraged the team: «They’re going to do this.»

Switzerland beats the Philippines 2-0 in the first match

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Ramona Bachmann punched her penalty kick into the left side of the net moments before halftime to set up Switzerland’s 2-0 win over the Philippines on Friday at the Women’s World Cup opener for both teams.

Seraina Piubel of Switzerland added a goal in the second half, scoring on the rebound of a missed shot by Coumba Sow that bounced off Philippine keeper Olivia McDaniel.

The Group A match was the first game inside Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium, the tournament’s only indoor venue. The cheers of the crowd resounded around the walls of the half-filled stadium, with an attendance of 13,711 in a venue that can accommodate more than 30,000.

As long as they have your attention…

«On the field or at the polls, give it your all,» says Megan Rapinoe.

She is one of the TEAM USA stars calling to vote in a public service announcement from former First Lady Michelle Obama’s national nonpartisan effort to boost voting and voter registration.

Crystal Dunn and Andi Sullivan also speak for When We All Vote, an organization that aims to increase voter registration and turnout, especially among youth and people of color.

With a 3-0 win in wintry Wellington, Spain sets the tone

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — When Alexis Putellas finally made his entrance in Spain’s first match at the Women’s World Cup against Costa Rica, the game was already won.

He two-time Ballon d’Or winner he waited 77 minutes to come off the bench, enter the tournament and promptly answer questions about his fitness after his lengthy recovery from injury.

Putellas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee just before Spain’s Euro campaign last year, returned for the first time in April and has played sparingly since, mostly coming off the bench.

His appearance in the 3-0 win in Wellington on a night of biting cold and rain was an affirmation of his fitness, the promise of better things to come as the tournament progressed and the latest component of a triumphant night for Spain.

Three goals in less than five minutes in the middle of a first half in which he enjoyed extraordinary command of possession and attacking freedom lifted Spain to a 3-0 lead over Costa Rica at halftime. That advantage held throughout the second half, although Spain finished with 45 shots on target, an extraordinary total.

Brief history of women’s struggle for equal pay

It’s been just a year and a half since the US women’s soccer team settled with the US Soccer Federation following a lawsuit over unequal pay with men.

The USSF agreed to pay the women’s and men’s national teams equally for future friendlies and international tournaments, such as the World Cup.

Previous unequal pay had long been a sore spot for American women, who have built the world’s most powerful program with four World Cup titles. Meanwhile, the US men had their best performance at the 1930 World Cup, placing third, but have otherwise never come close to a title.

Second gentleman getting into the spirit in New Zealand

Second Knight Doug Emhoff has been preparing for tonight’s showdown. He led the presidential delegation to the inaugural ceremony and will attend tonight’s game against Vietnam.

He has also been spending time with American athletes. Yesterday, Emhoff tweeted a photo of himself posing with the team.

«@USWNT, the whole country is supporting you. Come on Team USA!» she said.

Earlier this week, Emhoff shared a video of him Facetiming with the team.

«You’ll hear me with all those people in the stands,» Emhoff told the players in the video. «I’ll be out loud and cheering for everyone who couldn’t make it back home.»

LGBTQ athletes make history

A record number of LGBTQ athletes are competing in this year’s Women’s World Cup.

At least 87 athletes out will compete — more than double the 38 who played in the last Women’s World Cup, in 2019, according to the sports website LGBTQ Outsports. That means more than 1 in 10 of the 736 players at this year’s Women’s World Cup (a whopping 11.8%) openly identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer or non-binary.

Fun fact: Brazil currently holds the title for the most queer gamers on its roster, with nine out of 23 identifying as LGBTQ, according to Outsports.

Read the full story here.

Only four countries have won

Only four teams have ever won the Women’s World Cup.

Most recently, the United States had back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2019, but also had two trophies before that, from 1991 and 1999.

Germany has won it twice: in 2003 and 2007.

And Norway and Japan have gone home big winners once. Norway in 1995 and Japan in 2011.

The 411 at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

The once every four years tournament is being played in Australia and New Zealand. The game started yesterday and won’t finish until August 20, when a new champion will be crowned at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Up to 83,500 fans can fill the stadium, which has previously been the focus of international sports competitions: in 2000, it hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

Watch the action at Fox, Telemundo and Peacock.