A minor furor erupted after the United States trounced Thailand 13-0 at the Women’s World Cup this week. It’s easy to look at the result and think there are too many teams at the World Cup. Or that the gulf between a powerhouse such as the USA and strugglers such as Thailand is too great for this to be allowed.
However, perhaps the threat of being embarrassed will help get other countries to start investing in women’s soccer. The USA didn’t have some special magic to become the best nation for women’s soccer in the world, or make the USWNT into the most powerful national team.
All the USA did was take the game seriously. Thanks to Title IX, the game was funded at a scholastic level, which led to player development, which led to international domination. Much of that happened when women’s soccer was still banned — banned!— in countries such as England, Italy and Brazil.
There’s nothing stopping any country from investing in its own women’s soccer teams, but many still haven’t done so. In 2019, encouragement and hectoring won’t make a dent in that deficit. Expanding the World Cup to 24 teams might have helped bring about results like 13-0. But hopefully it also will encourage other countries to try to avoid the worst.
• A few signs have emerged that some countries with traditional men’s powerhouse teams that long ignored the women’s game are starting to improve. Argentina held Japan to a 0-0 draw to claim its first point at the Women’s World Cup. Italy, which hadn’t qualified since 1999, knocked off Australia and defeated Jamaica. Chile, in its first appearance, ran Sweden close, succumbing only to two late goals.
• On the one hand, there’s no need to get out the pitchforks after the USA men’s national team suffered two ugly losses in one week. The team was missing some of its most important players, but its bewildered, indifferent performance has fans worried. If his players are too confused or unmotivated to make the tactical changes that coach Gregg Berhalter has made count, no amount of sideline scheming will matter.
World Cup: USA vs. Chile, 11 a.m. Sunday, Ch. 9. Chile isn’t a powerhouse, nor is it a Thailand-like pushover. The Chileans visited the U.S. last year and came away with two losses, but by 3-0 and 4-0 scorelines. Chile also held Germany to two goals in a pre-tournament friendly. It’s almost certainly going to be a comfortable USA victory, but will Chile make an overconfident U.S. team sweat?
U.S. Open Cup: Minnesota United at Houston, 6 p.m. Tuesday (round of 16). The Loons have never gotten past this round of the tournament. Last year they were defeated by Houston, which went on to win the Cup.
Gold Cup: U.S. men’s national team vs. Guyana, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Allianz Field (group stage; preceded by Panama vs. Trinidad and Tobago at 6:30 p.m.).
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org