The U.S. women scored 13 goals in their opening round World Cup win against Thailand on Tuesday, setting a new record in the process.
That resulted in a bazillion Twitter hot takes and 5,000-word think pieces about running up the score, American sporting culture, gender inequality, and whatever other topics people could think of.
Trying to keep it a little more simple, without going off on 35 tangents, here are some thoughts on what transpired yesterday:
- Goal differential is a tiebreaker in World Cup group play. Therefore, it’s logical to score as much as possible. Sweden is also going to crush Thailand, so it was important for the U.S. to build up their +/- number right off the bat.
- As such, the scoring was fine, but the celebrating that bothered me. They were cheering goal #10 as if it was goal #1, and that came off as a little bush league, in my opinion. If you’re generally superstitious and/or believe in karma, things like that might come back to bite a team in the ass, or simply provide motivation for future opponents.
- Put me in the camp of people who feel as though taking your foot off the pedal is disrespectful to the opponent. If I’m Thailand, I’d be more insulted if the U.S. stopped playing and just tried to kick the ball around for the last 30 minutes of the game.
- There is much less parity in women’s soccer than men’s soccer. Nascent programs like Thailand aren’t on the same level as the U.S., France, and Japan, so to compare the women’s World Cup to the men’s World Cup is generally a fruitless exercise, since there’s less competition across the board.
- You play to win the game, as Herm Edwards once said.
- One of the overarching pre-tournament themes was that people felt like the U.S. needed to begin by making a statement, which they did.
- On the uber-rare chance that the U.S. men scored 13 goals in a game, they’d be judged the same exact way as the women. There’s no “patriarchal” thing going on here.
To that final point, I’d probably agree with Alexi here, after the jump:
Yup, it comes with the territory. And many, domestically and internationally, will happily attach some greater significance relative to 🇺🇸 bullying, arrogance and exceptionalism. But it's all sanctimonious drivel. If you have complaints, direct them to FIFA. #AskAlexi https://t.co/30I9IPaKyL
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) June 12, 2019
This happens in every sport at every level. Maybe your kid’s team put up 10 runs in the first inning against the other baseball squad. There might be a mercy rule in place to spare the further embarrassment, to prevent the total destruction of those kids’ confidence and spirit moving forward.
And if you’re coaching the winning team or if you’re a parent, maybe it’s a good lesson to teach, the idea that we don’t want to rub it in someone else’s face, that we try to stay humble while keeping our foot on the gas and playing to the best of our abilities.
I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. Remember when the Saints went for it on 4th and 6 while up by 31 points in the fourth quarter against the Eagles? If you don’t like it, then it’s on you to keep them out of the end zone in the first place, which the Birds were not able to do. They deservedly got their ass kicked, then took that motivation and almost turned it into a divisional round playoff victory against New Orleans a short time later.
So the only problem I have with what transpired yesterday was the celebrating beyond goal number seven. Otherwise, the U.S. Women did exactly what they were supposed to do, which is beat the tar out of the opponent while showing no mercy, none whatsoever.