U.S. soccer stars embarrass themselves at Women’s World Cup

Yesterday at the Women’s World Cup, the U.S. defeated Thailand 13-0. The lopsidedness of the result is further proof that the tournament is a second rate sporting event.

Soccer is the world’s game, but women’s soccer is not. Not many countries take women’s soccer seriously and, with the possible exception of the U.S., those that do don’t take it nearly as seriously as they take men’s soccer.

Hence, mismatches like the U.S.-Thailand farce. There just aren’t enough competent women’s teams in some continents to make up a strong world cup field.

At the real World Cup, a mismatch like yesterday’s is nearly impossible. If the best men’s team from Europe or South America played the worst team from Asia or North America, one would expect a 4-6 goal margin of victory. 13-0 is unheard of.

It’s true that Germany defeated Estonia 8-0 yesterday in a men’s game, but not in the World Cup. The Estonia team could never qualify for the World Cup as that tournament is presently constituted. And 8-0 isn’t 13-0.

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.

The absence (or virtual absence) of precedent for Rapinoe’s display demolishes Abby Wambach’s attempt to defend her former teammate. Wambach tweeted:

For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited. Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate. Would you tell a men’s team to not score or celebrate?

For one thing, Rapinoe’s goal was not her first in the World Cup. She has scored frequently at the tournament. Moreover, you wouldn’t need to tell members of a men’s team not to celebrate as Rapinoe did after scoring in a rout. Few, if any, men would think about a celebration of that nature. For that matter, few women would think of it.

It’s not surprising that Rapinoe showed so little class. As I wrote in 2016:

I’ve seen enough of the U.S. team to know that if there’s an act to get into, Megan Rapinoe, the flamboyant star midfielder, is probably going to get into it. Thus, it wasn’t surprising when she decided to emulate Colin Kaepernick and disrespect America by refusing to stand for the National Anthem.

When Rapinoe was thwarted in her attempt to call attention to herself and to disrespect her country (the anthem was played before the players took the field), she whined about it, calling the move “[expletive] unbelievable.” She then accused the owner who thwarted her attention-grab of being “homophobic” (Rapinoe is a lesbian).

This is an athlete who is obsessed with calling attention to herself. Once again, she has succeeded in this objective, but only by making herself look ridiculous and entirely unsympathetic.

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