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Sophia Smith has history against Paraguay

Can she make some more today?

FBL-WC-2018-WOMEN-U20-USA-PAR Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images

The United States Women’s National Team will play Paraguay for the first time today on the senior level. Despite this, there are a few players on the USWNT roster who have international experience against Las Guaranies at the youth level.

Crystal Dunn and Kristie Mewis played and Sam Mewis was an unused sub against Paraguay in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. went on to win 3-1 versus Las Guaranies. But the player who has the most experience against Paraguay at the international level is the USWNT player with the second-fewest senior international caps on this roster - Sophia Smith.

Smith has played against Las Guaranies twice and was victorious both times. In her first appearance against Paraguay, she came off the bench in the USA’s 6-1 win at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2016.

Smith met Paraguay again at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France. The future Portland Thorns forward started this match. She is the only member of that U-20 youth squad who is available for selection for today’s match in Cleveland, OH.

There are four Paraguayans available for selection today that were on the Las Guaranies side that lost 6-0 against the U.S. youth squad. Lorena Alonso and Limpia Fretes both started against Smith and the U.S. Daysy Bareiro and Deisy Ojeda were unused substitutes.

The future Thorns No. 9 had a field day against the Paraguayans on Aug. 9, 2018, in Concarneau, France. She opened the U.S.’s World Cup account in the 15th minute. Smith started her run around midfield and dribbled past four defenders. She then played a one-two with Viviana Villacorta.

Smith got the ball back just outside the 18-yard box. She drove toward the box and poked it around a sliding Paraguayan defender. Smith continued into the penalty area, faced up her defender, and blew by her before slipping her shot in between the keeper and the near post.

Smith was just getting started. In the 39th minute, she received the ball on the right flank and sprinted past Alonso into the penalty area. She tried to curl her shot to the back post. The keeper parried it into the path of Savannah DeMelo, who tapped it into the back of the net.

The U.S. made it 3-0 right before halftime. Smith was at it again to start the second half. She ran onto a pass just past the midfield line. She took an exquisite first touch and flew by Natalia Villasanti. She arrived in the box and forced a defender to step to her. Smith played a cutback to Ashley Sanchez, who put the U.S. 4-0 to the good.

Smith completed her brace in the 63rd minute. She timed her run well and exploited the space between the two Paraguayan center backs. Villacorta sliced her pass through the defense to Smith in stride. The keeper rushed out to put Smith off but the forward was unperturbed. She side-footed the ball with her right foot, around the keeper, off the post and into the back of the net. DeMelo made it 6-0 and the U.S. defeated Paraguay for the third time in youth World Cups.

Smith will meet Paraguay for the third time today in Cleveland. On the weekend she ran rampant against the North Carolina Courage. Smith’s sixth goal of the season not only propelled the Thorns back to the top of the table but it gave Portland their first-ever NWSL win over their rivals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. She played 84 minutes and registered eight shots, five of which were on target. Smith also created three chances during the match.

Smith is in her most consistent and best run of form in her young professional career. She scored the crucial goal against the Courage, put in two great performances in the Women’s International Champions Cup, and scored and drew a penalty in the Thorns’ 2-1 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC.

Smith clearly has impressed coach Vlatko Andonovski and was rewarded with this call-up. Now she has a chance to cement her place in Andonovski’s squad for the present and the future. She registered her first USWNT assist against Argentina on Feb. 24th. Smith made a signature run through the defense before playing Alex Morgan into the penalty area. Morgan finished well, giving the U.S. a 5-0 lead over Argentina.

Smith will be looking to get on the scoresheet for the second time in her USWNT career and against another South American opponent. Smith has found success against Paraguay throughout her youth international career and will try to continue that streak, as well as her good run of form, today. The last time Smith played Las Guaranies she was deadly. Can she do that again today and score her first USWNT goal?

Statistics retrieved from Thorns FC and U.S. Soccer.