Ken’s Column: No need for apologies from the US Women’s soccer Team

Published 11:22 pm Thursday, June 13, 2019

The US Women’s Soccer Team kicked off their defense of their 2015 World Cup title by clobbering Thailand 13-0 in their first game of the group stage of the 2019 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday, June 11. They set a record for most goals scored by any team in World Cup history.

As a result of the Americans’ thrashing of an inferior opponent, some in the media have accused the US squad of running up the score. There has also been criticism directed at the US players for the way they celebrated when they scored their goals.

For me, I have no problem with their trouncing of Thailand. First of all, there are 24 teams in the tournament. The teams are divided into six groups of four teams. Once the group stage is over with, the top two teams from each group, along with the four best third-place teams, advance to the second round of the tournament. One of the factors that will determine whether or not a team will advance to the second round is goal differential. The Americans want to score as many goals as they can to ensure that will happen. The US should finish first in their group. The other two teams in their group are Sweden and Chile. Sweden knocked the US out of the Olympics in 2016 and is considered by some to be a favorite to win this year’s World Cup. Chile is making their first ever World Cup appearance. Sweden defeated Chile 2-0 in their first game of the tournament.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you want to score as many goals as possible to ensure that you move on to the second round.

Another reason why I have no problem with the Americans’ lopsided win is that you should play as hard as you can until the buzzer, or in this case, the ref’s whistle sounds to end the game. All athletes from the recreation level to college to the pros are taught to give maximum effort and to not quit until the game is over. That’s the way it should be.

Some people might say that the team should have backed off scoring once they knew the game was secure. They say that by pouring it on like they did, they were embarrassing and humiliating the Thai players. I say that’s not the case. If the US decided to stop scoring once they got up 6-0 and purposely tried not to score the rest of the way, then in my mind, you are telling the Thai National Team that they are an inferior opponent. The Thais might be thinking ‘These Americans think we’re no good because they’re taking it easy on us now that they have a large lead. They have no respect for us. They think we are weak. They have pity on us.’

In my mind, you do more to disrespect your opponent when you let up on the gas pedal. If I were a member of the Thai team, I would want the US to continue to compete as hard as possible and to try to keep scoring. I want to compete against them when they are playing at their best. I wouldn’t want them to take it easy on us. By continuing to score as the American women did, I believe they showed respect for Thailand. The US treated the Thais like they would any other opponent no matter how good or bad they are. By doing that, they showed respect.

A couple of other things: The members of the US Women’s Soccer Team worked extremely hard to get to this point. They have worked all their lives to make it to the World Cup. They had to work their tails off just to make the team. Therefore, to them, scoring a goal in the World Cup is the ultimate thrill of a lifetime. Why shouldn’t they celebrate with unbridled joy? They aren’t rubbing it in. They are letting out all of the emotion they’ve bottled up from the years of hard work they put in to get to this point. Let them have fun. They’ve earned it. They showed respect to Thailand by not letting up on them and they are rightfully celebrating their goals because they have the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

For those who still think the US ran up the score and rubbed it in with their goal celebrations. Here’s a message for you. Get over it! The ideal answer is for Thailand to get better, not for the US to hold back on their goals or their joy at scoring those goals.

Ken Gustafson is the sports editor for the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, email him at, or call 229-924-2751.