2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Team USA Must Find Balance Between Goals And Sportsmanship

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You see the score, 13-0.

What is your reaction?

If it was football, you would probably say it was a defensive battle. Baseball, it was bad pitching. But what about soccer?

Aren’t those games supposed to be 1-0 or nil, nil? Not on Tuesday at the Women’s World Cup and the first game for the United States.

In case you missed it, the U.S. beat lowly Thailand by a World Cup-record 13 goals in the first round of group play (32-team international competition, France). Star U.S. forward Alex Morgan scored five goals and also had two assists. Impressive.

In the first round, each team plays the other three teams in their group, and the top two teams with the most points (three for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss) advance to the next knockout round, which is single elimination. If two teams are tied on points, the goal differential or who scored the most goals advances.

This is where the argument—whether 13 goals are too many—plays a big part. The U.S. team, which is the favorite to win the tournament, still has to play Chile and Sweden in their group. Sweden is also one of the favorites, so that game could decide who wins the group. Winning your group usually means an easier game in the next round.

Look at this scenario: Sweden beat Chile on Tuesday, so you would think the U.S. will also beat Chile. As a result, if the U.S. and Sweden come into their game against each other with six points, a tie between the two teams would make the deciding factor, goal differential.

Who knows how many goals Sweden will be able to score against the out-matched Thai team; however, I would guess it won’t be 13. But it has to be in the back of their minds, right?

Simply, how many goals you score in the group stage MATTERS.

With that said, what I have a problem with is the way the U.S. went about the game and the lack of sportsmanship they showed.

I’ve been on both ends of games like this, and, honestly, it is no fun on either side. I’ve been there as a player and a coach. Running up a score is never the way to go in my opinion. You can hand a team a sound defeat, prove your dominance, AND keep the score respectable. It is on the coach and on the players equally.

The discrepancy in talent between the top and bottom teams in women’s soccer is huge, and it showed particularly in this game. But in the game of soccer, there are many, many ways to manage a score. The U.S. team did none of that. Their approach was downright rude. On top of that, they continued to celebrate goals like it was the game-winner in overtime.

What did they have to prove by disrespecting the Thai team and running up the score with over-the-top celebrations? Nothing.

Sure they hugged and consoled their opponents at the end of the game, but that was too little too late.

I was excited to see how the U.S. team would play in their first game with the pressure of being the odds-on favorite. They played great and showed their skill and dominance that hopefully will carry on the rest of the tournament.

However, the way the U.S. team went about that win did not make me proud to be an American soccer fan. Win your games but show some sportsmanship and class. Unfortunately, that was missing on Tuesday. Boo.

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About Author

John D. Hunter is Montana native but grew up in the Tacoma/Seattle area and proudly attended Washington State University. He is a former morning show producer on KJR SportsRadio in Seattle. For 7 years he produced ‘Knight in the Morning’ with Michael Knight and New York Vinnie. From there he moved to ESPN.com where he spent another 7 years as an Interactive Editor and Soccer reporter/writer. He has covered 3 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, 1998 World Cup in France and many more sporting events.

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