The USA women’s national team DEMOLISHED Thailand yesterday 13-0 in the Women’s World Cup, setting off a firestorm on social media about good sportsmanship and running up the score against an inferior team. Should the U.S. women have taken their foot off the gas against a clearly inferior Thailand women’s team? Or was the 13 goal outburst appropriate?
Two Crossing Broad columnists share their opinions on the USA victory after the jump:
Want to know what the biggest problem is with the U.S. Women’s Soccer team humiliating Thailand 13-0 in the opener of the World Cup?
That the reason anyone would have a problem with this is because it’s women and not men.
Right there we get to the crux of the issue.
Here’s an example:
For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited. Imagine it being you out there.This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate.Would you tell a men’s team to not score or celebrate?
— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) June 11, 2019
And then there’s this from U.S. Coach Jill Ellis:
“If this is 10-0 in a men’s World Cup, are we getting the same questions?”
Yes, Abby. Yes, Jill.
This has nothing to do with gender. This has everything to do with sportsmanship, respect and not only that, not being so damn stupid as to leave your best player on the pitch for the entirety of a 13-0 blowout and risk injury as Alex Morgan and her five goals played all 90 minutes.
For the record, there has never been a 10-0 game in a Men’s World Cup. The biggest goal differential has been nine. It’s happened three times, in 1954, 1974, and 1982, certainly in eras were the sport wasn’t as globally popular as it is today.
And if a men’s team – doesn’t have to be American by the way – in any sport, soccer, football, hockey, lawn darts – I don’t care – ran up a score like that and did so with classless celebrations like the ones that occurred from goals nine onward, they would be panned just as hard – if not harder.
What do football teams do when they have big leads in the fourth quarter? Do they keep throwing the ball? No, they just run it. Even in the playoffs, with the Super Bowl – the most-watched sporting event in the world mind you – on the horizon, teams take their foot off the gas when the victory is in hand.
You don’t see Steph Curry pull up for three in the waning seconds of a 20-point lead for the Warriors.
Hockey teams up five goals in the final two minutes of a game aren’t still pinching on the wall to keep the puck in the offensive zone and firing shots at will on a beleaguered goalie.
Because you won. You know you’ve won. There’s no difference between winning and winning more.
Well, OK, in soccer there is. Goal differential is a thing in the group stage, which is fine. I get it. But do you need to win 13-0? Especially when a good chunk of those goals are coming in the dying minutes of the game?
There are arguments that yes, you score as much as you can because you never know who else might try and outscore you to get a better goal differential.
But considering the largest goal difference for any team in Women’s World Cup history is 22 goals (Norway, 1995) for AN ENTIRE TOURNAMENT, then the odds of someone else putting up a 13-spot are pretty damn long.
So, the whole goal differential argument is shallow at best and ridiculous in reality.
Then there’s the whole “momentum” argument. That seriously doesn’t fly in sports. How many times have you watched a game where a team scores a boatload of goals/points/runs in one game then looks like they don’t remember what offense is the next time out?
Not to mention, when you are the best team in the World – as the U.S. team is, what kind of momentum and motivation do you really need? Does embarrassing a far inferior opponent really make you feel better about yourself and want to go out and win more the next time out? It’s sad if that’s the case.
Some will say this is a message-sender to FIFA that there needs to be greater effort to create better competition for teams like the U.S.
Morgan even was quoted afterwards suggesting that:
“Not every federation gives the same financial effort to their women’s side, and that’s unfortunate,” Morgan said. “My hope is that eventually we have 32 teams moving forward. But also that it encourages FIFA to put a bit of pressure on those respective federations to put more efforts into their women’s sides.”
But does a 13-0 drubbing send that message? Or does it do the opposite? Does it make other federations less-likely to try to match them in the future?
Maybe a couple countries will, but most will just be happy to qualify for the World Cup knowing they can never compete with American funding.
If the Americans REALLY cared about growing the sport internationally (as opposed to just nationally) they never would have run up the score that high.
As for the celebrations – I’m not opposed to someone scoring their first World Cup goal from getting a little over-excited at finally doing that. Fine. But Megan Rapinoe has been there before. Act like it, please. Morgan counting her goals in celebratory fashion is blatantly rubbing it in the face of your opponent.
All that does is make your team the villains. And maybe that’s how they operate best. Maybe that’s what drives them. OK, whatever. You want to play the heel, go nuts.
But here’s a newsflash for you – by being the best team, you were already that to begin with before you even stepped foot on the pitch against Thailand. There was already a target on your back. Why make it bigger?
This game was poorly handled by the U.S. team. When you are that good and your opponent has no business being in the same venue as you, you take care of business, do whatever you can to make sure your best players don’t get hurt, and you move on.
They outshot Thailand 39-2. Think about that for a second. Thailand got two shots in 90 minutes. The Americans were averaging a shot every 2:31 and a goal on every three shots. This game was over at halftime (3-0). It was obvious to everyone watching and it was obvious to everyone on that U.S. team. And yet, they decided to score 10 more goals in 45 minutes after the fact.
Pouring it on like that was a completely selfish exposition of “look at me” flamboyance.
Well, we’ve seen you. And the spotlight deservedly just got a lot harsher. Own that, and then we can celebrate you. Until that happens, don’t mind us while we root for a comeuppance.
Now, I respect Ant as a colleague of Crossing Broad. He’s the best hockey guy in the business, runs a hell of a podcast with Russ (shout out Snow the Goalie), and cranks out fabulous copy like nobody’s business. When he suggested that he and I take opposite sides on this issue he said he “couldn’t commit that much energy” to it, but ended up sending me over 1,000 words on the subject.
Thanks for making us all look bad, Ant.
But on this issue? On the issue of the USA’s drubbing of Thailand 13-0? You’re dead wrong my friend and I weep for you.
Sure, the USA scored 13 goals against the hapless Thailand squad, but the biggest humiliation for the Thai women would have been for America to stop competing and giving their best. To take their foot off the pedal, play possession for the last 30 minutes of the match, and essentially toy with the Thailand team for the remainder of the afternoon would have been even worse.
This isn’t at all different than back in the BCS days when elite college football teams would demolish hapless programs by 70+ points to better their BCS formulation. It’s pretty clear that Thailand is going to be at the bottom of this grouping, so get your goals in, get that differential up, and lets move on with our lives by ensuring the USA gets to move on to the round of 16.
I argue that it is far more humiliating for a team to be toyed with by a superior talent, for the elite team to essentially stop giving their all and taking pity on their opponents. That is much worse than continuing to score goal after goal. This isn’t a parent playing basketball against their five-year-old kid. You don’t have to make everyone feel “good” by pretending that you suddenly can’t score goals after already scoring seven in 56 minutes.
If the U.S. women had taken their foot off the gas, demonstrated that they could easily blow by the Thai defense whenever they pleased, and “let up” before scoring, that would be an even more embarrassing reality for everyone involved on the Thai team. Hey, we can score whenever we want too, but we won’t because we’re such good sports! Everyone playing in this game knows it, everyone watching this game knows it, but because we’re “good sports” we won’t do it. That’s ridiculous.
It’s the World Cup. It’s not a friendly, this is the biggest stage some of these American women will ever play on during their athletic careers. Rose Lavelle shouldn’t celebrate her first two career World Cup goals? To hell with that. Go bigger next time, I don’t care. Do the Undertaker throat slit to the Thai bench after you pot one. Shoot fireworks up at the Thailand President’s box (or maybe don’t do that one, probably best to avoid an international incident). Drive a Volkswagen Bug onto the pitch and do donuts in the penalty box, dousing the Thailand goalie in mud and chunks of turf. Go nuts.
I have no problem with the U.S. women playing the heel. Go nuts. They were the biggest threat to everyone else in this tournament and they cemented that status by power bombing Thailand through a stack of burning tables. Are they trying to be friends with these women, or doing what professional athletes do and ruthlessly trampling an inferior opponent?
After the game, Megan Rapinoe spoke with a Fox Sports reporter about the drubbing and said the following:
“If our crime is joy, we’ll take it.”
Exactly. You trained your whole life for this. The stage will never be bigger. Have fun, crush your enemies, and celebrate.