Andy Kirkaldy: Soccer gripes a double standard
Between 1983 and 1992 only two Super Bowls were decided by fewer than 10 points. Scores included 38-9, 46-10, 42-10, 55-10 and 52-17.
The 46-10 game was a beatdown of the New England Patriots by the Chicago Bears in which the Bears gave the ball to an offensive lineman (Refrigerator Perry) and allowed him to score a touchdown when the game was already out of hand.
Back in those days, the newspapers were full of stories every year bemoaning the lack of sportsmanship of those teams, how they were being bullies and showing poor sportsmanship by running up the score on their hapless opponents.
The constant complaint back then became how boring the Super Bowls were every year. Some stories said the Bears should have given the ball to Walter Payton instead and allowed him to score a touchdown against the Patriots.
After touchdowns in all those Super Bowls players spiked the ball or danced in the end zone. No one whined about those big, mean football players bullying their opponents.
So, what’s different when columnists clutched their pearls, put the other hand on their foreheads, and collapsed on their fainting couches after the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team scored 13 times in a World Cup game and celebrated each goal?
Hint: There’s one key word in that last sentence.
OK, on to more fun stuff, starting with the U.S. women’s team. The women played great, and not only in finishing, in their walk-over first two wins. They hustled relentlessly, won seemingly every loose ball, defended fiercely, and moved the ball creatively. They probably will have gotten past Sweden by the time you see this in print.
My only knock on the group so far is I wish the coaching staff had figured out a way to get both Alex Morgan and Carly Lloyd on the field at the same time, rather than subbing Lloyd in late for Morgan as they did in game one and in the run-up to the tournament.
It’s almost certainly too late to consider a different formation, but a 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers) might have allowed those two lethal scorers to work together and possibly maximize the team’s potential. Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe as overlapping outside mids working with them could have been a good look, too.
Regardless, the U.S. will need everything to work to perfection to win the tournament. Somehow FIFA managed to set up the draw to pit the World Cup’s best teams to meet in the quarterfinals: The U.S., ranked No. 1 in the world, will almost certainly meet No. 2 France in that round.
What I have seen and read of the commentary has made little mention of the 3-1 hurting France put on the U.S. in Le Havre in January. The home French side well earned that result; it was 3-0 before a late goal by U.S. youngster Mallory Pugh. Another French victory would hardly come as a shock.
And no matter what the result, one of the two biggest draws in the tournament will be eliminated early. As always, it’s hard to say what FIFA was thinking. Or if FIFA was thinking.
On a local note, what local farmers and athletic directors alike agree was the worst spring weather in history ended with good weather and results for several local teams. I hope the farmers can say the same when everything finally dries out and warms up.
Five area teams reached finals, and two of them won. Meanwhile the Vergennes track and field team’s hard work, often in school corridors, paid off with three banners at the Division III meet.
And one Mount Abe senior, Jalen Cook, joined a short list that as far as I know consists of only two other local team-sport athletes — winning championships in each of the three sports seasons.
Cook’s Vergennes-Mount Abraham girls’ lacrosse team, of course, went undefeated and won the Division II title this spring. Her Eagle field hockey team won the 2018 D-II title, and her 2018 Mount Abe girls’ basketball team claimed the D-II crown.
The other two? Both Austin Olson and Mount Abe Athletic Director Devin Wendel played on that school’s 2007 boys’ basketball team and 2006 baseball teams, both of which won titles. Olson played for the 2004 Eagle boys’ D-II soccer title team, and Wendel played football for the 2005 D-III champs.
Are there more three-team champs out there? Maybe football or field hockey, downhill skiing and lacrosse in the 1990s at Middlebury Union? Please let us know.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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