When the U.S. Women’s National Team topped Vietnam 3-0 on July 22 at Eden Park, it marked not only the official start of the U.S.’s 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign, but also the World Cup debut for eight players on the U.S. roster.
Savannah DeMelo, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Sofia Huerta, Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Andi Sullivan and Alyssa Thompson all saw action in the USA’s opening win in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, marking their first appearance on the sport’s biggest stage.
Girma, one of four players on this roster born after the historic 1999 Women’s World Cup, played the full 90 minutes on defense in the shutout win, covering any jitters with consistent play and distribution from the back.
“I definitely felt the nerves before the game, but once the whistle blew and we got into it, I felt this calmness and confidence,” said Girma, who will make her national debut in April 2022. “I think that also comes from Julie’s speech. [Ertz]Crystal [Dunn] and Alyssa [Naeher] all around me, constant communication. I think that helps me get in the zone and helps me stay focused.”
Girma, who completed 79 of her 88 pass attempts (93% pass decision) and had six ball recoveries against Vietnam, also credited USWNT co-captain Alex Morgan and her San Diego Wave FC teammates for helping her prepare for the moment.
“Alex has been great in giving me advice and preparing me for what to expect at the World Cup,” Girma said. “A lot of our veteran players have been very good at it. They’ve just been telling us to enjoy the moment and soak it in. I think in that first game that was really big – just staying calm and knowing it’s a regular game and trusting ourselves to go out and get the job done.”
The World Cup opener was perhaps even more special – and certainly more fashionable – as the US players arrived at Eden Park in custom suits made by Nike in collaboration with designer Martine Rose.
“Look good, feel good, play good,” Girma said. “It was great.”
A great and memorable start to the tournament.