Nancy Armour, USA TODAY
Published 5:08 p.m. ET June 11, 2019 | Updated 6:26 p.m. ET June 11, 2019CLOSE
SportsPulse: We’ve all seen the iconic image of Brandi Chastain winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup. But as teammate and legendary goalkeeper Briana Scurry explains, that moment almost didn’t happen.
USA TODAYREIMS, France — This is the World Cup, not a rec league tournament. Mercy has no place here. Not from the U.S. women, who had waited almost three years to avenge the most humiliating loss in the program’s storied history at the Rio Olympics. Not for a team that has listened to the whispers and rumbles for months now about how the days of their dynasty might be ending and heard since Friday how brilliant and devastating France looked in its World Cup opener.Even if you think the 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday night was absurd, what is the threshold? Should have they throttled it back after the seventh goal? Or the eighth? After halftime even, when it was 3-0? By that standard, why not just call the game after the U.S. scored its first goal, given that was all it needed. Because it’s the World Cup, and goal differential matters. So, too, does the spirit with which you play the game. They don’t give out participation trophies or orange slices after these games. It’s win or go home. And if you can’t hack it, then you probably shouldn’t be here. “You don’t want to take your foot off the pedal because you want to respect the game and play through and play them as we would play anyone else,” Kelley O’Hara said. “It is a tournament. Goal differential matters.”At the end of day, you can’t feel bad for scoring as many goals as possible.”Nor should they feel bad for celebrating them, as all the pearl clutchers on social media are suggesting. Is Mallory Pugh not supposed to celebrate her first goal at a World Cup? Is Alex Morgan not supposed to be excited that she matched a record Michelle Akers set 28 years ago? The U.S. women have a title to defend and a message to send, and they’re not about to apologize for the aggressive – and enthusiastic – manner in which they do it.”For these players, four years now some of them have been working, some of them even longer,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “I don’t find it my job to go and harness my players and rein them in. This is a world championship.”Ellis then asked, rightly, if we’d be having this same discussion about a 10-0 thrashing if it was the men’s World Cup. And we all know the answer to that because we see it every weekend in September, when Alabama, Clemson and every other football powerhouse bulldozes a Football Subdivision patsy, and no one bats an eye.it would have been far more offensive if the Americans had taken their foot off the gas, the ultimate sign of condescension from a powerhouse team. The Americans see everyone’s best game, and they ought to give as good as they get.To go easy on Thailand, even later in the game, would have been a cop-out, and could come back to haunt the U.S. later in the tournament. Getting players confidence, getting momentum, those are the names of the game at the World Cup and that’s what the United States did. “It’s how you want to start a tournament. You want to have this feeling,” Ellis said. “It’s having players feeling good about their game.”If this was the best Thailand could do, so be it. That’s that team’s problem, not the U.S. women’s. The U.S. women play Chile next, on Sunday in Paris, and the score is not likely to be a whole lot closer.The Americans are chasing a trophy. If you don’t like that, tough.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide
Nancy Armour, USA TODAY