Carli Lloyd’s sympathy with the Thai goalkeeper was a far better expression of what the US team are about than any choreographed celebrations
Should the US have taken their foot off the pedal against Thailand? Absolutely not. When you respect your opponent you don’t all of a sudden sit back and try not to score. This is the World Cup and all you can do is play with heart, with passion, and with intensity. Doing that is showing the opposition respect.
The 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday was a comprehensive performance from the Americans. Every player looked fit. Every player looked like she had technical ability. They played as a team. They were good on set pieces. They looked like they were having fun. I loved seeing Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, and Kelley O’Hara combine so well. Alex Morgan displayed what a great player she can be.
It was tough for me to watch some of the US goal celebrations – which have come under criticism – considering the scoreline. You do want the game to be celebrated and you do want to see players having fun but at the same time I thought some of the celebrations were a little overboard. A few seemed planned out and I do know some players spend a lot of time thinking about celebrations for the fans. It’s not always necessary. We haven’t won the World Cup yet. My favorite celebrations capture the rawness of the moment and are filled with spontaneous emotion. When that happens you actually see how much passion there is in the sport and how much pride the players have.
That said, one of the classiest things I saw was Carli Lloyd going directly to Sukanya Chor Charoenying, Thailand’s goalkeeper, after the game. Carli put her arm around her and supported her as they walked off the field. Thirteen goals on a goalkeeper has to be incredibly tough. As a goalkeeper, I don’t know how you deal with that many goals. I’ve had five scored past me and that was a heavy blow. I never wanted to feel that way again and it took me a long time to get over it. It is something that I have never forgotten.
I would love to give some advice on how to deal with it but really you just have to suffer. Struggle helps us grow in life and soccer is similar. You have to feel the pain and find a way to get through it. Unfortunately, you have to go through it yourself. The goalkeeper is on her own. I hate to say that but it doesn’t matter what anyone says to you and it doesn’t matter who tries to comfort you. Goalkeepers have to deal with it ourselves. It does take time. It is hard and it is painful and we have to face it.
I felt bad for the Thailand team in general, especially when I saw some players physically dejected and actually give up. That’s not good. By the end of the game they had nothing left and that was hard to see. The difference between the US and Thailand – who made the Asian Cup semi-finals just last year – is complicated and like the chicken and the egg. Do you open up the World Cup to grow the game? Or do you grow the game and then open up the World Cup? I think you have to first invest in the women’s game before you get to the World Cup but unfortunately that’s not what a lot of the federations around the world have done or do.
So what did we learn about the US from the game? We already knew that we can score goals and that we have a variety of ways to score goals. We already knew how skilled these individual players are. We did learn that the young players managed any nerves very well and that they can be fun to watch. The younger players certainly got their feet wet and got some World Cup experience. That will help them going into the next match against Chile.
But what we still don’t know is if the US have a sound defense when they get tested. What we need to know is if some of these big name players – who did do really well against Thailand – can do it against the better teams. This American side is the best attacking team in the world, individually. I want to see all the players perform as they did against Thailand when it really matters and it really counts.