USWNT opens CONCACAF Gold Cup with rout of Dominican Republic

CARSON — The last time the U.S. women’s national soccer team played in a tournament, things ended earlier than they’re accustomed to with a Round of 16 exit at the World Cup.

With the new year comes a new look, coach and opportunity to get the program back on the tournament-winning track.

First up is the new edition of the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. The USWNT controlled its Group A opener from the outset and came away with a very comfortable 5-0 victory over the Dominican Republic in front of 3,242 on a rainy and cold Tuesday night at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The Americans had the perfect start as Lynn Williams scored off of a corner kick in the second minute. However, it was ruled that Sophia Smith impeded the vision of the Dominican Republic goalkeeper and the goal was waved off.

Nearly five minutes later, a breakthrough came as 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie tapped in a Midge Purce cross for the 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.

In the 30th minute, Williams finally had her goal, tapping in a cross from Midge Purce for a 2-0 lead.

Moultrie added a second goal in the 58th minute, redirecting a pass from Purce into the goal for a 3-0 lead.

Moultrie became the third youngest player in USWNT history to score multiple goals in a match. The other two are Cindy Parlow Cone and Mia Hamm.

Jenna Nighswonger, a Huntington Beach resident, capped the scoring when she converted a penalty kick in the 86th minute for a 4-0 lead.

Alex Morgan added another successful penalty kick in the 90th minute to close the scoring.

The USWNT recorded 30 shots, compared to none for the Dominican Republic.

With the SheBelieves Cup and the Paris Olympics on tap for this year, the recent training camp was the first opportunity for players to make a first impression on the coaching staff.

The initial Gold Cup roster consisted of 11 players who are 25 or younger. Due to injuries to Alana Cook and Mia Fishel, a pair of trusted veterans were called in (Becky Sauerbrunn and Morgan).

The Dominican Republic defeated Guyana, 1-0, in the preliminary round on Saturday to qualify for the group stage.

Before the start of the game, the U.S. suffered a setback with Fishel suffering an ACL injury Monday. Morgan was called on to replace her and entered the game as a substitute in the 67th minute.

The game was not only the first in a tournament with Twila Kilgore in charge as the interim coach, but it was also her first in her native Southern California. Kilgore was born in Downey and went on to attend Harvard-Westlake High.

“It’s a great opportunity to come home, it’s been amazing,” Kilgore said. “A couple of my club coaches surprised me at training the other day and it was like a full circle moment for me. This is a great city that loves football.”

Kilgore is serving in the interim role while new coach Emma Hayes completes the current Women’s Super League season with Chelsea.

Mexico and Argentina played to a scoreless draw in Tuesday’s first game. Mexico had a chance to take the lead early but Rebeca Bernal missed a penalty attempt in the 10th minute.

That tie definitely opens up the race for second place in the group.

The group will be back in action Friday with Mexico and the Dominican Republic squaring off at 4:30 p.m., followed by the USWNT and Argentina at 7:15 p.m. Both matches will again be in Carson.


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