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Opinion: US women did what was necessary in 13-0 blowout of Thailand

USA TODAY SPORTS 6/11/2019 Nancy Armour

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

REIMS, France — Take the pearl clutching and righteous indignation somewhere else. This is the World Cup, not a rec league tournament. 

There are some who seem to think the U.S. women's 13-0 thrashing of Thailand on Tuesday night was piling on, that their celebrating of every goal was unseemly.

Tough. 

You want the Americans to impose the slaughter rule or patronize their opponents by pretending they didn't just tack another goal onto the scoreline? Go join the 6-year-olds in the park. Maybe you'll get a participation trophy and an orange slice while you're at it.

This is high-level competition, and the Americans have no reason to apologize for treating it as such. 

"You don’t want to take your foot off the pedal because you want to respect the game and play through and play them as we would play anyone else," Kelley O'Hara said. "It is a tournament. Goal differential matters.

"At the end of the day, you can’t feel bad for scoring as many goals as possible."

Nor should they. 

The U.S. women have been waiting almost three years to avenge the most humiliating loss in the program’s storied history at the Rio Olympics. For months now, they've heard the whispers and the rumbles about how maybe they're vulnerable and the dynasty might be coming to an end. Since Friday they've heard how brilliant and devastating France looked in its World Cup opener. 

They were ready and eager to make a statement, and they did. It's what their job demands and their respect for their sport commands. 

Besides, what level of lopsidedness would have been appropriate? Should they have throttled it back after the seventh goal? Or the eighth? After halftime even, when it was 3-0? Why not just call the game after the U.S. scored its first goal, given that was all that was needed. 

Because goal differential matters. The top two teams from each group advance and while it's pretty much a given the United States will be one of them, it cannot assume that Sweden won't have a goalapalooza of its own. 

But it's more than that. It's the spirit with which you play the game.

These are not exhibitions or warm-ups. This is the World Cup, the biggest event of these players' careers and one that only comes around every four years. To not treat it as such is to disrespect the game and everyone who's playing it. 

The keyboard warriors might not realize that, but the folks on the field do. 

"We accept the score today," Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said. "We haven’t done enough. We accept that they are very strong and they were excellent all around. We accept our mistakes and we are going to improve."

As for the U.S. celebrations, is Mallory Pugh not supposed to celebrate her first goal at a World Cup? Is Alex Morgan not supposed to be excited that she matched a record Michelle Akers set 28 years ago? 

The U.S. women have a title to defend and a message to send, and they’re not about to apologize for the aggressive – and enthusiastic – manner in which they do it.

"For these players, four years now some of them have been working, some of them even longer," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I don’t find it my job to go and harness my players and rein them in. This is a world championship."

Ellis then asked, rightly, if we'd be having this same discussion about a 10-0 thrashing if it was the men's World Cup. And we all know the answer to that because we see it every weekend in September, when Alabama, Clemson and every other football powerhouse bulldozes a Football Subdivision patsy, and no one bats an eye.

it would have been far more offensive if the Americans had taken their foot off the gas, the ultimate sign of condescension from a powerhouse team. The Americans see everyone’s best game, and they ought to give as good as they get.

To go easy on Thailand, even later in the game, would have been a cop-out, and could come back to haunt the U.S. later in the tournament. Getting players confidence, getting momentum, those are the names of the game at the World Cup and that's what the United States did. 

"It’s how you want to start a tournament. You want to have this feeling," Ellis said. "It’s having players feeling good about their game."

If this was the best Thailand could do, so be it. That’s that team’s problem, not the U.S. women’s. 

The U.S. women play Chile next, on Sunday in Paris, and the score is not likely to be a whole lot closer.

The Americans are chasing a trophy. If you don’t like that, tough.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: US women did what was necessary in 13-0 blowout of Thailand

Related slideshow: Best of the Women’s World Cup (Provided by imagn)

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