The long four-year wait is over once again! The Women's World Cup kicked off just a few days ago with a close match between the Netherlands and New Zealand with the Netherlands pulling out a 1-0 victory. That small goal differential seems like nothing compared to the gargantuanly lopsided 13-0 win the United States had over Thailand just a few days later.
Now, as someone who's always been a soccer buff and looked up to the US Women's national team, of course, I like to see them win but it's hard to see another team, like Thailand, lose as badly as they did. And if a 13 goal negative differential wasn't enough of a blow to the Thai players, the US didn't stop or even tone down their goal celebrations. There's the issue.
In youth soccer, there are shutout rules for a reason. It's kind of cruel to let little kids get creamed 10 or more goals to one when really, they're just trying to have fun. However, these players, the ones who've qualified wor world cup play, have made this sport their lives and on such a big stage there is no shutout rule or mercy rule and while that's to be expected, there is still something to be said about team/player etiquette. Celebrations are a part of sports, sure but how much is too much?
When you have a team like the USA who have won three world cups, countless Algarve cups, Olympic gold medals, and much more and you put them up against a less established and less accomplished team such as, in this case, Thailand, it doesn't come as a shock that the score comes out to be something so disproportionate. One, two three, even four or five goal celebrations from the US would have been acceptable, it's the world cup, they're scoring, they're winning, it's game one, they're pumped but after six or seven goals, when the win is on lock and it's obvious that the scoring will continue, the goal celebrations should stop.
It's kind of a bummer for me to write this seeing as how the main player to encourage the USA's over-celebrating was Megan Rapinoe. Megan was my favorite player when I first started watching professional soccer. She was quick on the ball, smart passionate about the game, funny and she had good hair! Rapinoe still continues to be my favorite player but I recognize some of her flaws as well. She's the player on the team most known for goal celebrations so it's not shocking that she's the one that people are pointing fingers at regarding over-zealous, unsportsmanlike behavior.
And while I truly do believe that she and all of the others on the team meant no harm or disrespect to Thailand, it wasn't a classy move and people who are criticizing the team for their behavior are not necessarily out of place or off base with their frustrations with the team.
Some people will argue that telling players to be conscious of the score and how or if they celebrate, is over controlling or soft but letting teams continue to gloat as the USA did, falls into less of a celebration category and more into the category of poor sportsmanship.
With all of that said, the USA is still in the running to become four-time World Cup Champions and I personally am excited to see how the rest of the tournament plays out. I have hope that the USA is faced with a similar match again, will be more focused on sportsmanship rather than being flashy. The USA's next match is on June 16th against Chile. Happy World Cup Season!