Baptism of fire: Caribbean side Dom Rep bow into Gold Cup action against United States

By Sports Desk February 20, 2024
Kathrynn Gozanlez (#15) celebrates scoring Dominican Republic's goal against Guyana. Kathrynn Gozanlez (#15) celebrates scoring Dominican Republic's goal against Guyana. Concacaf

After clinching a 1-0 preliminary phase win over Guyana, Caribbean representative Dominican Republic will bow into group stage action at the inaugural Concacaf Women's Gold Cup on Tuesday evening.

However, their task will be as tough as it can get to kick off a tournament, as they are up against four-time World Champions United States in the feature contest of a Group A double-header at the Dignity Health Sports Park. Mexico and Argentina will lock horns in the curtain-raiser, with the games scheduled for 7:30pm and 10:15pm Eastern Standard Time.

United States vs. Dominican Republic

Having won all there is to win in the Concacaf region and also on the world stage, there is no doubt that United States, the reigning Concacaf Women's Championship title holders, start as one of the favourites, if not the overwhelming favourite to become the first champions of this Women's Gold Cup. That basically underscores the difficulty of Dominican Republic's assignment to get things underway.

Rated as the most decorated team in the world, United States qualified to the Women's Gold Cup after topping the 2022 Concacaf Women's Championship, with victory in all five games played. They’re returning to the main stage after they exited the 2023 Women's World Cup at the Round of 16 stage and will be under the guidance of interim coach Twila Kilgore, until new Head Coach Emma Hayes takes the reins.

With this new leadership, United States women's outfit will try to get another Concacaf trophy under their belt, and players like striker Sophia Smith, who has 15 goals within major tournaments like the World Cup and Women's Championship, will be integral to their chances of achieving the feat.

Midfielder Lindsey Horan, who captained the team in Australia/New Zealand, where she scored two goals, and was one of the difference-makers during the qualifying tournament, will also be a key factor in a stacked United States team.

Still, Dominican Republic will be optimistic of giving a good account of themselves, as rubbing shoulders with United States will certainly give their women's programme a great deal of confidence going forward.

In fact, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean women have grown in confidence since their Gold Cup qualifying run, where they amassed five wins and a solitary loss in six League B games, with 24 goals to their credit. The likes of Kathrynn González, who scored the banger against Guyana in the preliminary, and Mia Asenjo, who had nine shots on Saturday, will be key to Dominican Republic's chances of possibly finding the net.

Goalkeeper Paloma Pena, who made key saves against Guyana, will be hoping to repeat her clean sheet feat on this occasion.

 

Mexico vs. Argentina 

Prior to the United States and Dominican Republic clash, Mexico and Argentina will square off. The two are familiar with each other, having shared the pitch at the Pan American Games, where Mexico won 2-0 in the semi-finals to improve to an overall record to four wins and a loss against Argentina.

Under Head Coach Pedro Lopez, Mexico registered victory in all four games in Group A of League A, and with the disappointment of missing last year's World Cup still fresh in their minds, they will be hoping to make amends to an extent, with a deep run in this tournament.

Players like Maria Sanchez, who scored two goals and had the most shots (13), and Natalia Mauleon, who made an impression with the Under-17 and Under-20 National Teams, will again be aiming to make an impact as they did in the qualifiers.

Argentina, who placed third at the CONMEBOL Copa America Femenina in 2022, with four wins and two losses, will be intent of showing their class to get a win on North American soil.

Head Coach German Portanova has generational talent in players like Yamila Rodriguez, who was the top scorer of the 2022 Copa America with six goals. Another Argentinian sensation is Sophia Braun, who got on the scoresheet at last year's World Cup.

 

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