The United States had to wait until the very end of the five-day-long first leg of the 2019 Women’s World Cup’s group stage to get some game action, and when they did, they made a statement Tuesday with a 13-0 win over Thailand.
They also triggered the ire of the hallowed defenders of the unwritten but sacred scrolls of sportsmanship.
Some critics clutched their pearls aghast at the margin of victory — a new Women’s World Cup record — and that the U.S. women kept pushing for more goals until the very end of the match against the clearly overmatched Thailand squad.
Well, anyone even vaguely familiar with the format of the World Cup tournament knows that goal differential in the group stage matters. The Thailand rout now assures the U.S. will win its group even in the event of a draw against archrival Sweden on Thursday afternoon. So, let’s put that critique to bed right out the gate.
Other critics harrumphed about the fact that each of the 13 goals was celebrated joyously by the team, as if these elite athletes are some kind of robots who should be able to shut down their happiness programming once a certain lead is obtained. All things considered, that’s easier said from a distance than done by the actual human beings on the pitch.
Think about it. These women don’t get to play 162, 82 or even 16 World Cup matches over the course of five to eight months, year in and year out. This is something that only happens once every four years for the women lucky enough to be involved, and in less than one month’s time — assuming the U.S. makes it all the way to the final — it will be all over.
For some of these athletes, it is their first time on this grand stage, and for others, it will be their last time at a World Cup. So, hopefully the U.S. players don’t listen to the fun police, and keep living it up.
After forward Carli Lloyd scored the first goal in Sunday’s 3-0 U.S. win over Chile, Lloyd gave a fist pump and got a hug from teammate Lindsey Horan before adding a demure golf clap to her celebration — a clear clap-back at the critics.
The USWNT has heard the chatter loud and clear, even all the way across the Atlantic in World Cup host country France, but they’re not here for that. They’re going after a second straight World Cup title, and they’re going to do it their way. Never change, USWNT. Never change.