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The U.S. women's national team picked up a crucial three points on Tuesday as they defeated the Dominican Republic 5-0 to kickstart their 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup and the game taught us plenty. The tournament is the first iteration of the competition for senior women's national teams in the region, with eight Concacaf nations and four CONMEBOL countries battling it out for the trophy. The USWNT are taking their first steps in a new era with interim head coach Twila Kilgore and incoming manager Emma Hayes steering the group toward the Olympics. 

The squad racked up the five-goal shut out against Dominican Republic but what stood out? Here are three things we learned from the USWNT's opening Gold Cup game:

Fast and furious fluidity

The start and stripes got off to a strong start on the ball and never really let go. They held possession nearly 80 percent of the game and took 31 shot attempts over 90 minutes compared to just one attempt by the Dominican Republic. Still, five goals with ten attempts on target might be reflective of some offseason form for U.S. players still in preseason with NWSL clubs. 

It's such a minor criticism in terms of the bigger picture which is finally looking a bit clearer after game one. Since her time in the interim role, Kilgore has been vocal about getting the team back into playing with more freedom and fluidity. Building off their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup elimination to Sweden, where the squad felt they had their best game in terms of ball progression and movement, they could not convert their chances but here it was different. 

Forward Midge Purce had an impressive match on Tuesday, providing width and assists. The winger was constantly in strong positions to receive the ball and put it into play multiple times throughout her time on the pitch.

"We're playing against a low block so it gives an opportunity for a lot of creativity and we have a lot of creative players in the front line. So, it was it was really fun. It was a fun day," Purce said after the game.

It's exactly the type of fluidity Purce wants the team to keep with them in their next group match against Argentina on Friday.

"I want to take the freedom into that game. We had some really good moments, some good build-up moments, and re-attacking over and over again. Keeping the possession in the final third instead of like having big transitions and just going straight to goal," she said. 

The message is getting through

There were moments during the match where the movement was so constant that it wasn't clear to pin down a formation or what they were executing on the pitch. Was it a 3-5-2? Was it a fluctuating 3-4-3? Or was it just Kilgore reimplementing another 4-2-3-1, this time with players understanding their roles and having the confidence to execute it?

Whatever it was officially, it was refreshing. It was fun and it finally feels like the message is being played out on the pitch.

"We worked a lot tactically about getting into those spaces and getting into the one-v-one zone and making a lot more tactical goals in the sense where like we want tap-ins," Purce said on the team's overall game plan.

"We want easy goals. Like easy finishes in that goal zone. So, I think [Kilgore] did a really good job of making sure we're all on the same page."

Newer faces embrace the moment

The game plan is working for less capped players in the system over the last few international windows. Two players nabbed their first senior starts against the Dominican Republic with 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie and 20-year-old Korbin Albert. The two constantly moved in and out of the final third. Albert aided in setting up playmaking and had a shot off the post, and Moultrie scored two goals in the victory.

Moultrie credited Kilgore's planning, saying it aided the young midfielder in being so effective.

"Our positioning in the attacking half, how we wanted to stay higher, how we wanted to get numbers around the ball and into the box," Moultrie said on Kilgore's tactics. "Obviously, like how my goals came, just being in the most dangerous areas and Midge playing in some great crosses. So yeah, I think [her tactics] definitely was a huge part of it.

"She wants us to be free. And she wants us to be ourselves but in a structure that we can be the most dangerous as possible."

What's next

The United States lead Group A with three points after matchday one. They'll face Argentina on Friday with a chance to move closer to winning the group. Argentina settled for a scoreless draw against Mexico on Tuesday and are currently in second place. You can watch USWNT vs. Argentina on Friday night at 10:15 p.m. ET on Paramount+