Don't be my brother…
The US team are awesome, aren’t they? The passing lanes, the movement, the free roaming full backs, the fabulous finishing. If there is a team half as good in this World Cup, we’ve yet to see them.
But didn’t they just ever-so-slightly remind you of my brother over a game of Monopoly with the family? Appreciate you don’t know my brother but you’ve probably got a friend or relative just like him. He’s REALLY competitive. Which is fine, of course. We all like winners and I’m not going to be all British about this and suggest that we shouldn’t celebrate success. But my brother celebrates success by punching things and screaming in my face every time he builds a hotel on anything beyond the Old Kent Road.
Neither am I suggesting the US team shouldn’t have scored 13 goals, and I’m certainly not suggesting they should have taken it easy or patronized their opposition by popping it around the midfield and giving up. Certainly, they should have used this opportunity to flex their brilliance, test their through balls, perfect their runs, and set some records.
BUT… did they really have to celebrate goals 7 through 13 like they had just scored the winner, in extra time, in the final? My wife refused to watch the last 35 minutes (she’s American and has played competitive sport her whole life and was very keen on a win) arguing that the wild celebrations lacked a little grace. She also thinks my brother lacks a little grace, but I think that has more to do with him tripping over his own shoelaces.
US coach Jill Ellis seems to suggest that any criticism of the celebrations is sexist. I’m disappointed to see the gender card played at something that has nothing to do with gender. Doesn’t help the fight. Had the US men’s team (her comparison not mine) whooped and hollered at goals 7 through 13 I would question their grace just the same. I’d also question whether I was having a REALLY wild dream but that’s beside the point.
Mercifully some humanity returned at the final whistle with the classy Carli Lloyd going straight over for a chat and a hug with the excellent Thai keeper. Hard to argue the goalkeeper on the wrong end of a 13-0 tonking was one of the more impressive people on the field but her positioning was good, and her multitude of unlikely saves stopped it being 20.
Again (before anyone gives me a hard time about not understanding competitive sport) I am not saying they shouldn’t have taken the opportunity to get their attacking prowess flowing in its glorious windswept brilliance. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t celebrate that. Just don’t be my brother about it.
The bigger question, of course, is how there is such a disparity between World Cup finalists that 13-0 can happen. And that in part comes down to money. But my 500 words are up and I’m unsupervised tonight, which means I’m off for a wild night of pizza and France vs Norway on a deserted couch. Bliss.
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About the author: Mark Howden has managed a women’s football club in South West London for the last 15 years and is an avid fan of all football, despite being a long suffering Arsenal fan. With an American wife (and an 11 month old daughter with both passports) his loyalties are split for this World Cup. Okay that’s not true, England all the way but 2nd choice USA to keep his daughter and her special Stars’n’Stripes hoodie happy.