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June 12, 2019 — (Un)lucky 13

History will show that the U.S. women’s national soccer team started its 2019 World Cup with a 13-0 win over Thailand.

But it will take a lot of perspective to know whether this game was the best thing to happen to the U.S. or the worst thing.

Of course, if you look at the game and only it’s result, it is the very best thing that could have happened to the Hammers. The team logged in more than 100,000 meters in movement, according to FIFA.

The team kept the ball, kept pressure, finished well, and kept their foot on their opponent’s neck, not letting up.

The team’s most important cogs — Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and super-sub Carli Lloyd — found net. And so did role players such as Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan.

The swagger with which the U.S. dispatched its opponent, however, cuts in two directions. The scoreline may be a shot across the bow of the other 23 teams in this World Cup.

But the result also doesn’t take away the perception of the team as the “big, bad Americans” which every other team would take delight in defeating.

In addition, I would be worried if I was a coach within the U.S. camp. I’d be worried, first of all, if the team is peaking too soon. The Americans have always been at their best when they have seen some adversity, such as the 1999 and 2015 knockout games against Germany, when the U.S. fell behind in Landover and almost did the same in Montreal. That kind of experience has allowed the team to grow and get better as the tournament has gone along.

Another reason I’d be worried is that, with a 13-goal output, the team has exposed a lot of its considerable playbook. Opposing coaches are likely at work trying to figure out how to disrupt the American attack.

And ultimately, the U.S. team is faced with this question: “What do we do for an encore?”

Chile is going to find out Sunday, certainly.

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