Every team at the Women’s World Cup has now played one game, and we were all set to say how France had made a statement with their 4-0 rout of South Korea on the tournament’s opening day. Then Team USA came in and laid a baker’s dozen of goals on Thailand’s doorstep. For that game and all the others, I’ve got the breakdown here for you.
What a beatdown, huh?
In 2015, Carli Lloyd and Célia Šašić both led the World Cup in scoring with six goals apiece for the entire tournament. On Tuesday alone, Alex Morgan tallied five. Previously, the most lopsided defeat for any team was eight years ago when Argentina bumbled to a 10-0 defeat at the hands of Germany. USA coach Jill Ellis started Sam Mewis alongside Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle in midfield, and all of them netted goals. Substitutes Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd got on the scoreboard as well. There were so many goals that the screenshot above didn’t have room to list them all. It all reminds me of the first game in Shaolin Soccer, where the team of kung fu fighters scores so many goals that they spend more energy running around celebrating than playing the game. (Sorry about the English dub, by the way.)
The scoreline means that USA will have an advantage should they finish tied with someone (Sweden, likely) on points in the standings. It also means that Thailand will have a hell of a time moving on; even if they should get their act together and notch a win (over Chile, one would think), they’d still need a miracle to be among the four third-place teams that would qualify for the round of 16.
Is there any downside?
Obviously, this is a great result for USA, but if you’re a neutral fan, you hate to see a thrashing like this. The Women’s World Cup is predicated on the countries here being competitive, and having a team ship 13 goals calls into question whether there are 24 good teams in the world. Four years ago, unfancied countries such as Ecuador, the Ivory Coast, and this same Thailand team managed to be competitive. The same went for tiny Equatorial Guinea back in 2011. Though the men’s World Cup has had its share of hidings (I still remember Germany beating Saudi Arabia 8-0 at World Cup 2002), a result like this is still bad for the sport as a whole when it’s still trying to gain legitimacy.
I’m sorry I asked. You’re a real wet blanket.
Let me lift your spirits. That Argentina team that was so bad in ’11 made it back to the tournament and managed a goalless draw with Japan in their opening game. Goalkeeper Vanina Correa (who was in net for that 10-0 game and should have been charged with two own goals) was back for this game and looked about as dodgy as a three-peso note, but she did keep all the Japanese shots out. From the depths of humiliation, the Argentines came back and managed to play even with a bona fide superpower of the sport. No wonder their players were crying tears of joy when the final whistle blew. That’s something for the Thais to consider going forward.
Is there another inspirational story?
Like Argentina, Italy is another country where the women’s team has lagged way behind the men. This is their first World Cup appearance since 1999, and you might have expected some nerves from the Italians, but Le Azzurre upset Australia 2-1, with a stoppage-time goal from Barbara Bonansea to win it. The Aussies still have a reasonable chance of qualifying out of such a weak group, but now the Italians can reasonably hope to finish atop Group C. What a result that would be.
Who has had a bad start?
All of Asia, basically. We already talked about Japan failing to put one past Argentina, while Thailand got skunked and Australia (which is considered part of Asia by the soccer world) suffered that loss. South Korea were consistently pinned back in their game against France, and China also lost their opener, though they made mighty Germany huff and puff for their 1-0 win. The African teams also suffered three losses in three games, but given Asia’s history, the continent would have expected better.
How’d that England-Scotland grudge match go?
Eerily like the final of the men’s Champions League, with an early handball penalty changing the game’s complexion for the worse. After a cross hit the hand of Scotland’s Nicola Docherty (who got roasted all game), Nikita Parris converted the spot kick for England, and the Scots lost just about all their attacking verve until the last 20 minutes or so. Only a rare blunder by England defender Steph Houghton which gifted a goal to Claire Emslie created any suspense in a game where the English were comfortably better.
A Germany-Spain matchup in Group B should be a fascinating battle, though Germany looks like it has lost offensive star Dzsenifer Marozsán to a broken toe. Brazil has a chance to take revenge on Australia, which eliminated them four years ago. England and Argentina’s men have clashed so memorably at World Cups through history, but now their women will carry on that rivalry. I’d expect Chile to put up more resistance to USA’s offense, too.