The first round of the Women’s World Cup is often about goal differential. But most of the goals in the US’ 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday will likely turn out to be superfluous.
The US should win Group F, though things will go down to the third game, against Sweden June 20. But whoever finishes in first place, their “reward” could be a collision course with Germany or Spain in the second round, then France in the quarterfinals.
The US could survive those tests, but for Sweden, that would be a perilous route. In other words, whether the Swedes realize it or not, they should be happy the US poured it on the Thais.
As for the greatest rout in the Women’s World Cup’s 28-year history, it did not exactly help the credibility of the tournament. By expanding to 24 teams, FIFA risked including teams that have little chance of advancing and/or adding anything positive to the WWC.
FIFA made a similar move with the men’s World Cup, going to 32 teams, with the result that the first round has been devalued greatly. So, the plans now are to go to 48 teams, just to further dilute the field. Go figure.
There was talk on broadcasts that the US should have backed off against Thailand, instead of going forward and scoring six goals in the final 16 minutes. But this was such a mismatch that little could have been done to stifle the scoring.
Fox Sports commentator Heather O’Reilly, a former Boston Breaker now with the Carolina Courage, noted that continuing to score was a form of respect, and that Thailand would learn a lesson and return improved. But the US already had taken a 9-0 win over Thailand in 2016, so there is no guarantee the Thais got anything out of this one.
Alex Morgan scored five goals for the US. Hanson’s Sam Mewis added two, upping her total to six in the last five games.
■ In Le Havre, Jill Roord’s 90th-minute header gave The Netherlands a 1-0 win over New Zealand. Substitutes made the difference, as the Dutch added Roord and her Bayern Munich teammate Lineth Beerensteyn in the late going.
New Zealand, meanwhile, dropped off with Sarah Gregorius and Rosie White on the bench, and Paige Satchell coming on in relief. New Zealand was willing to take on the Dutch in a wide-open game but could not close things down near the end. New Zealand fell to 0-10-3 all-time in the WWC.
■ In Rennes, Sweden took a 2-0 victory over Chile in a match delayed by a storm. The Swedes made a key substitution with Madelen Janogy, who helped set up the opening goal, by Kosovare Asllani in the 83d minute, and ran through several defenders to score in the 94th minute.
Chile probably could not have used any better tactics, but it is difficult to defend for 90 minutes-plus. Asllani’s goal was converted following a blocked Janogy shot, 12 minutes after play resumed, and could have been prevented, but left back Javiera Toro kept her onside.
European teams improved to 7-0-0 against competition outside the continent in this event.
■ Nigeria vs. South Korea, Group A, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble: Both teams will likely have to go all-out to have a chance to join the best third-place teams.
Nigeria, now at 273 consecutive scoreless minutes covering the last two tournaments, is depending on FC Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala. The Super Falcons, 11-time African champions, have qualified for every WWC but advanced out of the group stage only in 1999.
The Koreans played defensively in a 4-0 loss to France in the tournament opener, but will have to go on the attack or risk going home early.
■ Germany vs. Spain, Group B, Stade du Hainault, Valenciennes. First place in the group will mean a likely easy run to the quarterfinals, but second place could mean a second-round showdown with the US.
Germany survived China’s physical tactics, and with players such as Dzsenifer Maroszan, it should continue to improve as the tournament progresses.
Both Germany and Spain based their game on composure and technique, so this should be one of the best matches of the tournament.
■ France vs. Norway, Group A, Allianz Riviera, Nice. The French attack started the tournament in high gear, and that was without a goal from Kadidiatou Diani, 24, who could be ready for a breakout game.
Norway might have been a title contender with Carolina Hansen combining with Ada Hegerberg, who is boycotting the team.