Sports

U.S. Women Dominate on World Cup Stage

U.S. players celebrate after winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Lyon, France, July 7. (Photo: CNS/Bernadett Szabo, Reuters)

Fans should focus on the team’s achievements, not the controversies

Just a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. women’s soccer team captivated the nation as it earned a hard-fought victory in this year’s World Cup.

The win marked the second-straight world title and fourth overall for the U.S. since the women’s tournament was founded in 1991.

Years from now, what will we remember most about the 2019 Women’s World Cup?

Will we remember the U.S. team’s 13-goal record-setting barrage against Thailand in the opening match?

Will we remember what some have called excessive celebrations, including striker Alex Morgan pretending to sip tea after scoring a goal against England?

Will we remember star midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s comments about not wanting to visit the White House before the World Cup ever began?

It’s true that there has been some controversy surrounding the women’s team this year. What we all should remember about the team, however, is its sheer dominance on the soccer field.

We should remember Morgan’s historic five-goal performance in that opening match — not her “excessive” celebrations.

We should also remember Rapinoe’s clutch performances in the knockout stages against Spain and France and in the final match against the Netherlands in which she scored five of her six goals  — not her comments in the media.

We definitely should remember the huge save by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher on a penalty kick in the semifinal against England that would have tied the match.

And, of course, we should remember the entire team dominating the Women’s World Cup field from start to finish.

All the controversy this year has been a creation of the media. Rather than focus on the storylines from the matches themselves, the press has picked up on the celebrations, comments and anything else not related specifically to soccer.

It’s a shame that some may only remember this World Cup for the non-soccer headlines. Doing so would take away from the U.S. squad’s stellar play.

Starting with the first match, the team immediately came under fire for its “over-the-top” celebrations in a 13-goal drubbing of Thailand.

Many soccer pundits believed the team should have eased up or at least refrained from celebrating the goals after the match was clearly out of reach.

New flash, though: It’s the World Cup! These women — especially those appearing in the prestigious tournament for the first time — have worked their entire lives to savor those moments. They deserve to enjoy them to the fullest if they score a goal or make a great play.

Also, in the first round, the number of goals scored actually serves as a tiebreaker. It wound up not mattering because the U.S. swept its pool play against Thailand, Chile and Sweden anyway, but you never know what could have happened.

Rapinoe especially has been attacked for not being patriotic because of her back-and-forth with President Trump. Frankly, though, her performance speaks for itself.

Scoring on two penalty kicks against the host team France was one of the most gutsy sports performances all year. Period.

After missing the semifinal match against England because of a hamstring strain, Rapinoe made her valiant return to score what wound up being the deciding goal in the final match against the Netherlands. With the pressure on, she came through.

This team overcame everything thrown its way. Even more impressive, the team did not let the media headlines and stirred-up controversies affect its on-field performance.

That’s the sign of a group of athletes focused on their overall goal. No matter what’s going on around them, they’re able to drown out the noise and achieve their mission on the biggest stage.

So years from now when we look back on the 2019 Women’s World Cup, some may remember the controversies, comments and excessive celebrations.

But I know I’ll only remember the grit and determination displayed by this group of 23 outstanding athletes.

I hope my fellow sports fans will also remember how this team dominated on the world stage.


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

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