Foudy's Five: Opener a warm-up for bigger test
I can hear former U.S. women's national goalkeeper Mary Harvey in my ear.
"This is a bad day to be Dominican."
She would say that any time the United States was having its way with a team. And you know when you're leading 5-0 within the first 20 minutes of a match that you are having your way with a team (and that it's gonna be a long night, never mind just a bad day, for everyone involved).
Friday night's final tally was 14-0, a U.S. women's national team record for any game, regardless of the competition. Of course, the Dominican Republic did not want the lopsided result, but the reality is, it is just not ready for this level of competition. Having said that, there are still some key takeaways for the U.S. women going forward, even if analyzing tactics becomes a bit of a challenge (read: impossible) given the inability of the Dominican Republic to launch any type of attack.
So, here are my five takeaways from the U.S. women's first game at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament:
This was a warm-up for the big game, which will be against Mexico in the Americans' third group-stage match. It is good to get some confidence, momentum and time together as a team and jell as a group ... even if the opposition was not much of a challenge. If U.S. can beat Guatemala in its next game (which it should do easily) and then win versus Mexico, it should avoid the dreaded Canada matchup in the semifinals.
2. New system
The U.S. got more time and practice at its new 4-2-3-1 system. I like Lauren Cheney in the "hole" behind the lone striker lots. I also like how Amy Rodriguez came in at the half and knocked in a cool 5 (not a typo) in the second half. I think I scored five goals total in my career.
3. Happy people
A lot of goals mean a lot of players scored and a lot of players were involved. It's a pretty simple equation: Goal scorers = happy players. And happy players are good to have at Olympic qualifying tournaments.
The U.S. should continue to get numbers forward out of the midfield and defense when playing a better team, and to support the lone forward (Abby Wambach). The U.S. will have to maintain that aggressive offensive mentality to make the 4-2-3-1 turn into its more beautiful split personality, the 4-2-4.
5. One game at a time
Keep the mentality and present mindset that it is truly one game at a time -- which is not always easy after a 14-0 rout. No matter who it is, or what the score is, or what happened in the last game, there is no second chance this time. The U.S. has to win in the semis to get to the London Olympics.
Final word ...
14-0. My goodness. Who knew futbol could be mistaken for football. Well done. Carry on.