USWNT 14, Dominican Republic 0: Lots of Goals, Lots to Talk About

So, the USWNT/Dominican Republic game. Where to begin? Any soccer match that ends with a two-touchdown score line is sure to ignite debate.


The U.S. ran up the score against hopelessly inferior opposition. But the team showed respect by not ‘playing down’ to its competition.

The USWNT took the ‘padding the goal differential’ thing way too seriously. But what happens if Mexico dismantles the Dominican Republic 11-0 and then Guatemala beats the U.S. 4-0?

Sundhage should have instructed the team to lay off after goal 10 or 11. It’s just needlessly excessive after that. So she was supposed to tell her strikers not to score goals? And saying ’14 goals is too much’ is totally arbitrary. If 14 goals is excessive, then what about 11 or 12? When does it cross the line into ‘classless’ territory? And plus, the Dominican Republic goalkeeper didn’t exactly inspire much sympathy. She punched her own teammate in the chest for goodness sake!

Ali Krieger might be out of commission for awhile thanks to a terribly clumsy, reckless, ill-advised tackle. But that’s soccer and it could have happened in any game or training session.

The CONCACAF commentators were spot on in their criticism of Pia Sundhage’s gratuitous goal celebrations. But she was proud of her team for doing what it’s supposed to do. Plus she’s just a super jolly person. And they’re excessively polite, manners-minded Canadians.

The U.S. has no business playing such lowly sides. But as the great Tim Vickery says, national teams will never improve by exclusion.

The team should have focused less on scoring goals and more on maintaining possession and executing cleaner passes. This is the same old USWNT we’re talking about, right?

The oft-maligned Amy ‘five goals in one half’ Rodriguez looked like a world-beater while Alex ‘WHY DOESN’T SHE START?’ Morgan was, well, goalless. I dunno, it was a weird game. But in all seriousness, it should do wonders for A-Rod’s confidence. And that last goal? What a strike!

It was a thoroughly joyless match. The team showed no mercy in demoralizing its opponent and there was even a serious injury to a beloved player. But look at this damn pictures. Do the players look joyless to you?

With all that said, it was hard to derive much enjoyment from Friday’s game. There was no sense of schaudenfraude in watching a hapless Dominican Republic side get trounced so mercilessly. And to the objective viewer, fourteen goals does seem to be a bit much, particularly when the dominant team is so well-endowed. That’s what the CONCACAF commentators were hinting at when referring to the USWNT’s inherent edge. Superior resources, better funding, and an undeniable cultural advantage. The contest just wasn’t on a level playing field, and some would say that a 14-0 victory screams of arrogance.

Still, Pia’s viewpoint is at least partly understandable, even if she failed to express it in her post-match comments. The team put forth quite an effort, which Pia praised. Some commentators (not I) felt the USWNT’s loss in the World Cup final was an epic choke job. If the USWNT now adheres to a kind of siege mentality, the team has the right to showcase quality deserving of its no.1 world ranking, regardless of the competition. The team has the right to score goals, and Pia – as head coach – has the right to celebrate. It wasn’t an exhibition match intended to spread goodwill.

Germany came under similar fire last October after its 17-0 tanking of Kazakhstan in Euro 2013 Qualifying. It was a ruthless and haughty performance, critics cried, but Silvia Neid obviously begged to differ. “There is no reason for any criticism today,” she said. When the final whistle blew, the team celebrated as if it had won a medal.

To put Friday’s victory in context, it’s the largest margin of victory for the USWNT in team history. The Dominican Republic is ranked 88th in the world, sandwiched between Malaysia and Guyana. And as Jeff Kassouf points out, it also suggests that the gap between the established powers and the fledgling programs isn’t actually closing. Like, at all. Indeed, the gulf between the top 30 ranked teams and the rest of the world remains canyon-like.

In historical terms, double-digit routs are truly a thing of the past. The last time the USWNT reached that margin in a single match was 2006 when the team defeated Chinese Taipei 10-0. Christie Rampone, Abby Wambach, Heather Mitts, and Carli Lloyd all played in that match too. But prior to 2006, the most recent shellacking’s occurred back in 1994 against Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica respectively. In 1991 there were four consecutive matches that saw double-digit shut-outs, all versus CONCACAF competition once again.

For me, Saturday morning’s most pressing question is not whether the team ran up or the score line or if it showed a lack of class in its goal celebrations. It’s…sadder. Will the best right-back from the World Cup miss the Olympics? If so, what will that mean for the USWNT and who will replace her?


Twitter was in fine form last night. Here’s a collection of some of the most memorable Tweets:

12 thoughts on “USWNT 14, Dominican Republic 0: Lots of Goals, Lots to Talk About

  1. magpie

    Hope it is only a MCL injury for Krieger then she will be ready for the Olympics.We are gonna miss her in this tournament.Congrats to A-Rod for scoring those goals.She need to score goals in high pressured games to silence her critics.Do you think if it was Canada leading 14-0,will they make those negative comments too?

  2. Quick as a Flash

    Lets see how many goals Canada Coach John Herdman will expect from his team. Last year the New Zealand Football Ferns scored 50 goals in their World Cup qualifier.

    One thing you will not see is John repeatedly jumping for joy. I have long been perplexed by Pia and I guess I always will be.

  3. john

    A few thoughts: well that seems to confirm my opinion that any combination of the US’ top 25-30 players can qualify. The only obstacle f/ this squad is when it fails to finish due to itself or suberb ‘keeping. BTW we’ll never know if Canadians will criticize their team f/ winning 14-0. So A-Rod can score 5 goals in a 7-0 game w/o any pressure. Curiously, when presented a chance to break the record she skyed the shot. Hum! Saurbrunn to the rescue? I was actually a little surprised she wasn’t the choice at left back to begin w/. Maybe the spot is LePelbeit’s to lose. Initially, as a player and coach I thought these blowouts were awesome. Didn’t take long to hate ’em. Especially as a coach b/c any bad decisions, poor touches, etc really don’t get exposed and your players can get a really false idea of where they stand. Not to mention do you do all the cutsie things like you can only score off a back pass, header, after 10 passes, etc., which can be just as demoralizing as a straight out score. Poor Krieger-she has had some truly tough health issues in her career. Let’s hope the US staff was wrong in this case.

    9-0 against Guatemala (less than 10 is polite)

  4. necron99

    Funny those Canadian Commentators were happy to see Sinclair stand over and take the PK for her 4th goal of the game, instead of letting a younger player get one.

  5. Joshua

    “In historical terms, double-digit routs are truly a thing of the past.”

    I wouldn’t know about that. Germany plays Turkey (another country with a women’s football program on the par with Kazakhstan and the Dominican Republic) next month. Let’s see how that one turns out.

    As far as women’s sports goes internationally, Title IX does not extend beyond U.S. borders. The Soviet Union and East German sports machines in international sports are gone. In women’s sports internationally now, I think the norm is for there to be a few countries with strong programs in a particular sport or maybe a few sports but for most countries to be either weak or have nonexistent programs. Women’s Soccer really isn’t an exception in spite of what Sepp Blatter or other people at FIFA might claim. There are enough countries with strong women’s soccer programs for a competitive high level tournament like the 16 team 2011 WWC to be held, but the competitive level falls off pretty steeply after that.

    1. Jenna Pel Post author

      Should have clarified. The double-digit blowout comment referred strictly to USWNT matches. Armenia, Israel, and Estonia (among others) have all been the recipients of heavy defeats in the Euro 2013 qualifying campaign, and that will likely continue.

  6. h

    I was one of those excessively polite, manners-minded Canadians who was at the game. IMO the only one who comes off looking bad here is Pia. The players should play their best regardless of who they are playing – I see no problem with their game. But for Pia to be so obviously relishing the destruction of a team who, to be honest, could be beaten by many college teams, was ridiculous.

    As a coach, playing a game like that, she shouldn’t celebrate – its not a chance to polish their game – its a chance for bad habits to re-emerge. Its a chance for the team to become over confident. Its a chance for injuries to occur as so often happens when playing a lessor team with a lack of finesse. I simply don’t understand how she could be enjoying the game…

  7. Rachel

    Obviously we weren’t at this level and goal differential didn’t matter, but my most memorable soccer experience to this day is being demolished by my team’s archrivals 8-0 after half our team went down with the flu. Let me tell you, it didn’t feel like “respect” at all. I watched the Mexico-Guatemala game, and even though Mexico was clearly dominant in the first half, they eased off and worked on defense/passing/incorporating younger players in the second. I guarantee you, there was never a chance of Mexico purposefully running up a score to qualify first in their group. Long story short, I just think both of the US’s defenses for trouncing DR past humiliation were ridiculous.

    The worst part for me, though, is calling in the 10th minute that Pia was going to sub in Morgan, ARod, and Rapinoe because it was already clear that they weren’t going to show any mercy whatsoever. If Krieger hadn’t been injured, I’m 100% sure that’s what would have happened.

    Oh well. What’s done is done. Let’s just be glad for a win, qualify, and pray (or whatever you do) for Kriegs.

  8. Summer

    Regarding Pia, I think people are misinterpreting her celebrations. It wasn’t celebrating the trouncing of a country. It was a personal celebration for those players, namely Amy Rodriguez, who have been going through long scoring droughts within the last year.

    Honestly, I thought her celebrations were more subdued than what I’ve seen of her in the past. If she was celebrating like she had actually won the gold medal, I would’ve agreed, otherwise, it is just a matter of personal taste.

    1. Katreus

      Yep. The only one she really seemed to celebrate over was ARod’s cracker of a goal from long range and that makes sense to me. The majority of ARod’s goals were pretty easy, from short range, with a free run to goal. That one required no small amount of skill and shows maybe ARod’s gaining her confidence (and shot) back.

  9. Tasha Kai's Big Toe

    My favorite part of the USN broadcast was when the announcers called a goal before the game on TV even started. Very prophetic.

    PS – who is Pia Sundhageee?

  10. Rob

    Perhaps Pia should save her celebrations for a game that actually matters. Sorry, but I see few positives from a contest as uneven as this one. Amy Rodriguez scores 5 goals. Great. How many did she score at the World Cup?


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