Back in 2019, the U.S. women’s national team took down Thailand in record fashion in its World Cup opener, winning with a final score of 13-0.
The scoreline — and the many goal celebrations — were met with criticism and questions of sportsmanship. Had the USWNT gone too far with its celebrations? Should the team have stopped scoring?
In the first episode of Just Women’s Sports’ World Cup show “The 91st,” injured USWNT forward Midge Purce and sports broadcaster Katie Nolan discussed that win – and the conversation that ensued. For Purce, the argument is simple: The narrative surrounding the score line was unnecessary, and she hopes the USWNT can replicate the feat against Vietnam in its 2023 World Cup opener.
“If you want somebody to play with that kind of intensity and energy all the time, you can’t be like, tone it down,” Nolan said. “They either bring it or they don’t, and they brought it. I also think it’s kind of pandering to a team to be like, their feelings are hurt. It’s like no they came here for the World Cup.”
“That was the craziest narrative for people to talk about,” Purce agreed. “When people are upset about the celebrations, I didn’t really care. I was like, ‘I don’t care that you’re upset. I don’t care that they celebrated. Great. Fantastic.’ When they were upset about running up the score I said, ‘Shut up, shut up, you have to be kidding me.’ You’re on one of the greatest sports stages in the world and you don’t want to run up the score?
“If I could score 30 goals on the same keeper, I would do it, and I wouldn’t hesitate for any of them. It’s sports and it’s ruthless and you pick yourself up and you dust yourself off and you go again. So I hope they run up the score. I hope they can.”
Nolan agreed, noting that if a player scores a goal in the World Cup they “should celebrate.”
“I don’t think anything they did was really that disrespectful,” she said. “I hate that conversation in general across sports where it’s like, don’t be proud of the difficult thing you did that everybody watching could never have done, could never have dreamed of doing. Because I know if I scored a goal in the World Cup my shirt’s probably coming off.”
Even still, the duo offered up “thoughts and also prayers” for Vietnam, who will be playing in their first World Cup game ever – and doing so against the United States.
“Imagine being on Vietnam and finding out that your very first World Cup match of your life as a team is against the United States,” Nolan said.