US vs. Thailand: Was that a game?
In the interest of full disclosure, I don't follow soccer or women's sports. I admire the athletes and their wonderful skills, but soccer just does not do it for me. As for women's sports, we had 3 sons and my 5 nieces danced their way through high school.
Nevertheless, I do take a passing interest in The World Cup and specially this US team that is getting so many good pre-tournament rankings. Some are saying that the US ladies will win it all and I hope that they are right.
On Tuesday afternoon, I caught a few minutes of the US vs Thailand. It did not take long for this "not really soccer" fan to realize that this was one of the greatest mismatches in sports history.
It then turned into one of the most embarrassing episodes in recent sports history.
My good friend Paul Mirengoff got it right:
The U.S. rout over Thailand has given rise to a pair of controversies: (1) should the U.S. have run up the score and (2) should U.S. players have indulged in major celebrations after scoring the late goals.
I have no problem with running up the score. Goal difference is a tie-breaker at the group stage of this tournament, and may end up deciding whether the U.S. wins its group. I think it unlikely that those final few goals against hapless Thailand will be needed for the U.S. to finish on top, but you never know.
However, some of the celebrations that followed the add-on goals were ridiculous, both on their face and judged by the norms of the sport. To take the most egregious example, in 40 years of watching men’s soccer, I can’t recall any celebration of a late goal in a rout that compares with Megan Rapinoe’s over-the-top celebration of goal number nine, which you can watch here.
Rapinoe celebrates (Fox Sports video screen grab)
We should add that Megan loves the front pages. She sees herself as a soccer player and social justice warrior. Maybe she needs to focus on one or the other.
Finally, where was the coach? Why didn't the coach settle the ladies down and told them to pass the ball and kill time? Or stop the outrageous celebration?
As a youth sports coach, I've been on both sides of mismatches. It doesn't take long for the losing coach to learn that his kids are about to get whacked. As for me, I always told my boys to win with class because the other kids have parents watching, too.
I wish that someone had told the US ladies to show a little more class because lots of people were watching them makes fools of themselves.