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January 20, 2011
U.S. women stand behind their unrelenting attack, rout of Dominican Republic

By Michael Lewis Editor

Goalkeeper Hope Solo wasn't very busy Friday night as the U.S. outshot the Dominican Republic 49-3.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo wasn't very busy Friday night as the U.S. outshot the Dominican Republic 49-3.
VANCOUVER — The U.S. Women’s National Team was not apologetic after they pounded the Dominican Republic, 14-0, in an Olympic qualifying match on Friday night.

They made no excuses for their unrelenting attacking play or the number of goals they scored.

The result, which either set or tied several CONCACAF and U.S. National Team scoring records, put the U.S. in excellent position to reach the semifinals of the tournament, which will determine which two confederations qualify for the London Olympics.

The win was the biggest in U.S. women’s history, exceeding a pair of 12-0 result over Mexico and Martinique in 1991. It also was the most goals scored in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying match.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo cautioned that the U.S. needed as many goals as they could score because goal-differential could determine finishes atop its group for the semifinal seedings. The U.S. and Mexico, in Group B, would like to avoid Canada in the semifinals and would rather play the likes of Costa Rica. The two semifinal winners qualify for the the London Summer Games.

“If there is a tie between two teams in our group, then it comes down to goal differential,” Solo said. “I’m really proud of our team respecting our opponents so much that to the point we never let up. It was entertaining.”

It was entertaining depending on which side you were on.

The Dominican Republic apparently did not think it was entertaining as the team packed up and left BC Place before the media could get reaction of coach Rufino Sotolongo and its players.

Solo said the Americans never felt sorry for the Caribbean side. The U.S. outshot its foes by an incredible 49-3 margin — more than one every other minute and placing 25 shots on goal. Goalkeeper Heidy Salazar made nine saves.

“There is no feeling,” Solo said. “This is a professional game. It’s Olympic qualification. You put the best teams on the field for the Olympics. They have some ways to go. Hopefully, we enlighten them and they continue to put money into their federation and continue to grow women’s soccer.”

Striker Amy Rodriguez, who connected for a record-tying five goals, said it would be against the U.S.’s pride not to keep trying.

“I think the American mentality is that we’re not going to give up,” she said. “No matter what the score is we’re still striving to do our best.”

Asked if she thought the game was easy, Rodriguez replied, “I would say no because i was telling one of my teammates I was tired. We had to work really hard against these girls. They didn’t give up. They put up a great fight.”

U.S. coach Pia Sundhage was criticized for her goal celebrations, giving members of the U.S. bench high fives after every goal. She was criticized by Canadian TV commentators for being overly exuberant.

“When we score, I am happy,” Sundhage said. “I use body language and when we score I am happy and proud. I hope that it’s contagious. This tournament is important. We want to go to the Olympics. If we keep that feeling we will win the next game.”

Rodriguez, who entered the game at halftime with the Americans enjoyed an insurmountable 7-0 advantage, scored all her five goals during a 33-minute span in the second half. She joined an illustrious group of U.S. international stars who have scored a team-record five goals in a match — Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett.

For the record, Rodriguez, who came on for Tobin Heath at the halftime, scored in the 47th, 48th, 59th, 71st and 75th minutes.

“We changed her role recently,” Sundhage said. “She didn’t score any goals at the WC playing as a forward in a 4-4-2. I am happy for her and the team. We had talked about her playing out wide but this is more than I could have hoped for.”

So, it was easy to forget that starting midfielder Heather O’Reilly finished with a hat-trick or that Abby Wambach registered a unique first-half double brace by hitting the back of the net and the woodwork twice. Or that Wambach started the assault only 37 seconds into the match, heading home O’Reilly’s right-wing cross from three yards.

Games like this were more commonplace some 15 or 20 years ago when women’s soccer was at an embryonic state.

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