US and VAR combine to hand a 5-0 beating to Dominican Republic

February 21 – It was a very wet night in California and while most were predicting it to rain goals at the Dignity Health Park Stadium, the reality of women’s football’s global warming was a little different.

The US ran out 5-0 winners, but if it hadn’t been for VAR’s double intervention in the last five minutes and added time it would have been 3-0.

The Dominican Republic arrived on the big stage following a 1-0 win over Guyana in the preliminary play-off last Saturday. But playing against one of the giant nations of the women’s game in a big stadium is a different prospect to duking it out on the park pitch.

But duke it they did, and with pride and a lot of bravery. Well organised and disciplined, Dominican Republic weren’t set up to play fantasy football, they were dug in for survival and damage limitation.

They will not have a bigger challenge in this group, but they will be challenged to find a way to build on this game plan with a little more adventure. Sitting back and waiting for the bomb to drop is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – you’re still going down.

But while they went down, they did so magnificently. Well prepared, very organised and difficult to play against, Dominican Republic were compact in their own box and always had three or four players behind the ball.

Dominican Republic were tight knit and resilient

The US women’s takeaways from this match will be few and are obvious. “We want to be more efficient,” said coach Twila Kilgore in her post match interview. She was more comfortable with the opportunity she had to give new players more game time ahead of the tougher challenges in this tournament and working towards the Paris Olympics in the summer.

The US are in the process of generational handover and fielded a very different looking team to the one that had disappointed at the World Cup in 2023. Even so, the captain’s armband was still handed to Becky Sauerbrunn who was winning her 213th US cap and had been a late call-up to the squad following the injury to Alana Cook.

This US squad knows it has a lot to prove and a huge weight of domestic expectation. They set about their task with vigour from the start.

In the second minute they thought they were ahead. A corner from Jenna Nighswonger was met by Lynn Williams who headed in, only for VAR to strike off the goal for offside.

It was early and much needed relief for the Dominican Republic as the US wasted no time in laying siege to their goal.

On 7’ the US were ahead. Midge Purce drove a ball across the Dominican Republic box that was flicked on for Olivia Moutrie to tap in.

This is an athletic and physically powerful US team who were comfortably muscling the Dominicans off the ball as they camped in their half. The Dominican Republic was under siege from a big noisy aggressor who wasn’t going away.

 

But it took until the half hour for the US to get their second. Purce beat her marker and drove in from the right to slide a ball through the thicket of Dominicans to Lynn Williams to tap in.

The Dominican Republic were defending with nine and ten players in the box, happy to get a foot in at crucial moments, but always keeping the Americans at arm’s length from their goal. They weren’t riding their luck, they were defending for their lives and with a well organised purpose.

The US almost has a third when Korbin Albert hit the bar on 43’, but the break the score was still 2-0, a victory for the Dominican Republic, though they had been battered.

While the first half possession stat was a surprisingly low 63% in favour of the US, they had had 19 shots, the Dominicans hadn’t had any and US keeper Alyssa Naeher hadn’t touched the ball.

The second half resumed the pattern of attrition the US had established in the first half but the Dominicans were equally resolute in their defensive shape – not being drawn forward to give the space behind the US desperately needed to open the flood gates.

On 57’ the US had their third goal. Williams, the liveliest at the tip of the US spear, found space on the right and picked out Moultrie unmarked in the six-yard area to tap in for her second of the night.

At the 65’ minute mark the US brought on their heavy artillery in the shape of Trinity Rodman and Alex Morgan (another late call-up to the squad) for her 216th cap (she has scored 121 goals for the US).

With 15 minutes to go Rose Lavelle was also brought into the action. The siege continued.

Into the last 10 minutes and the US had their fourth goal, courtesy of VAR. A review called play back, the referee reviewed and judged Brianne Reed had fouled Jeadyn Reed in the box. A nervous looking Nighswonger scored from the spot.

The VAR was now warmed up and in the game. Into added time and the referee was called to the monitor to review a foul on the electric Rodman. She pointed to the spot again and Morgan stepped up to hammer in her 122nd goal for the US.

The Dominican Republic now move on to face Mexico on Friday in what will be another test of their defensive resolve, while the US meet the far more physical prospect of Argentina.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1713123777labto1713123777ofdlr1713123777owedi1713123777sni@n1713123777osloh1713123777cin.l1713123777uap1713123777