Dear soccer fans,
There are two arguments here after team USA’s dominant and historical 13-0 win over Thailand at the World Cup on Tuesday: One, the fact that the red, white, and blue ran the score up to 13 goals on the day. Two, the fact that the celebrations kept coming as the score continued to rise.
Some saw it as selfish and unsportsmanlike.
Others, a complete dominate performance.
Let’s first talk about the amount of goals the United States put up.
For those of you who are maybe just dipping their toe in the World Cup soccer world, there is more to advancing in this tournament than just a “W” at the end of the game. The amount of goals you score also is a factor, and a big one. If there was a situation where there was a tie between one or two teams in a particular group, the tie breaker is goal differential.
Looking specifically at Group F (USA, Sweden, Chile, and Thailand), the United States is at the top but just behind them is Sweden and they can run up a score just as powerful as the U.S. So yes, scoring goals and scoring a lot of them is important in this best-of-the-best tournament.
After the 13-0 victory, former USWNT and current Fox Soccer analyst Heather O’Reilly explained that it can be seen as a sign of disrespect to “let up” in competition. “It’s the best way to show respect [to your opponent]. These countries need to improve and Thailand will improve.”
To say that the U.S. should have stalled, played keep away, worked the ball around, is a sign of disrespect to your opponent. Play the game as it’s meant to be played: go for goals.
Next, the celebrations.
We see this all the time in sports. Players getting pumped up after a big time play. Jayson Tatum tomahawk jammed over LeBron and then screamed in his face. Allen Iverson hit a step back jumper and then stepped over Tyronne Lue during a game. Marshawn Lynch grabs his junk before jumping into the end zone… so why are any of these different than the USWNT scoring goals? Is it just the amount of celebrations? Or do you place the acts under the same unsportsmanlike umbrella? One of the key differences here is those acts are "in your face" acts.
“You do want the game to be celebrated and you do want to see players having fun but at the same time I thought some of the celebrations were a little overboard. A few seemed planned out and I do know some players spend a lot of time thinking about celebrations for the fans. It's not always necessary. We haven't won the World Cup yet,” said former USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo.
I understand this. I get it. Score the goal and move on. Act like you’ve been there before.
But for some of the women on the team, they haven’t been on this biggest soccer stage before.
Four out of 10 of the goals were scored by those who were making their USWNT debuts, so yeah, they are going to celebrate. I went back and looked at all 13 goals. All of the celebrations weren’t in the faces of any Thailand players. The U.S. ran to one another for a big hug or to the sideline to celebrate with their bench players and coaches.
“First of all, this is the World Cup,” said Megan Rapinoe in an interview with Fox Soccer on Wednesday. “This is something that Lindsey, Sam, Rose, Mal, have been dreaming about for their whole lives. So you can’t fault them for that joy. If anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, not playing the right way, not being the right ambassador for the sport, they can come at us [the veterans]. I think our only crime was an explosion of passion.”
It’s apart of the soccer culture. Arguably the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, has his own trademark celebration and if you think he doesn’t pull that out if his team isn’t up 8-2, you’re sorely mistaken.