There’s no nice way to put it: The US Women’s team absolutely trucked Thailand Tuesday afternoon in the most lopsided game in Women’s World Cup history. 13-0 isn’t a fútbol score, it’s a football score. Respect to Thailand’s keeper, Sukanya Chor Charoenying, who managed to not walk off the field or sink into the pitch as the US women kept coming at her one after the other after the other.
Whether it was because the final list of goal scorers was so long it had to be scrolled on the screen like movie credits, or because the USWNT elected to celebrate each and every goal as if they had just gotten chosen to be on The Price is Right, people immediately had a lot of big thoughts about what the game meant. What about sportsmanship? What about international decorum? What about all of those Thailand players holding back tears as the final whistle blew?
On the other hand, isn’t that what competition is about — laying waste to your foes and enjoying every moment of it? What is the right way to celebrate a 13-0 win? Let’s discuss.
Since every good debate starts with establishing a mutually agreed-upon point, let’s agree on this first:
Celebrating goals is cool and good.
(If you don’t believe that, then you can skip the rest of this argument and go back to grumbling at the sky.)
BUT maybe celebrating your team’s 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th goals is overkill.
Former Canadian soccer players Clare Rustad, Kaylyn Kyle, and Diana Matheson called the display “disgraceful.”
“If you are going to blow away a team, do it with humility,” Rustad said. “…celebrating goals eight, nine, ten the way they were doing was really unnecessary.”
BUT the previous record for most goals scored in a WWC game was set when Germany beat Argentina 11-0 in 2007.
So there is definitely an argument for celebrating every goal up to and including the 11th, for reaching the record, then the 12th, for setting a new one, and then the 13th, because at that point it would be weird not to.
BUT perhaps there is a more sober way of doing so than, say, Megan Rapinoe airplane-arming around the backfield after scoring the game’s 9th goal.
She would never get away with that in the NFL.
BUT maybe that’s gatekeeping and the optics of telling a dominant team of women to not fully and righteously flex their power is a little problematic.
You do remember that some USWNT players recently sued US Soccer for gender discrimination? And the best women’s player in the world skipped the Cup because of the way her country treats women’s players? It’s a minefield of gender issues. Maybe they’re trying to make a point here.
BUT it’s pretty humiliating for the Thai team
Such a drubbing could be a bad look for a women’s sport that is ostensibly on the cusp of reaching new levels of competition and recognition.
BUT the Thai team are professionals.
Yes, they got dragged to hell and back. But they’ll survive. Some of the US women’s players have said continuing to play at top form, and celebrating accordingly, is a sign of respect and a sign that you still take the game seriously. “This is a world championship. To be respectful against opponents is to play hard against opponents,” USWNT coach Jill Ellis said after the match.
Not to mention, Thailand doesn’t seem to hold many hard feelings.
“This is their new team, and they wanted to win,” Thai sports commentator Adisorn Phiungya told the Washington Post. “This is a game of teamwork. Once you score a goal, of course you have to celebrate.”
Okay, unlike the result of Tuesday’s match, we are going to call this one a draw.