The USWNT’s disappointing exit from the World Cup brought the worst people out of the woodwork like jackals, gleefully smacking their chops and ready to feast on a corpse they identified as a “culture war.”
It’s ironic, of course, that this team is much more like their detractors than they’d want to believe. While some plaster “Don’t Tread On Me” stickers on their trucks to show their steadfast belief in being ready at a moments’ notice to stand against the government, the USWNT chose a different path of protest. In the end both believe intrinsically in the need for skepticism of government.
It didn’t matter that in the 2023 World Cup there wasn’t a protest against the national anthem by the players. That each game they proudly represented the USA without incident, because some outlets were going to manufacture outrage out of thin air.
Can you believe it? Athletes standing and remaining “LARGELY SILENT” during the anthem? Well clutch my pearls and be still my beating heart that’s ... exactly like every sporting event in history. Seriously, go to an MLB game this week or see the NFL this fall and tell me how many players actually sing along with the anthem. Do you sing the anthem when you take off your hat and stand? I bet you don’t.
Yes, it’s absolutely true that the USWNT has protested during the anthem in the past. We’ve been through that. Yes, they also spurned an invite from President Trump when he was in office, which sparked so much outrage to detest this national team like no other. Megan Rapinoe has been the locus of rage for one side of the political spectrum, who see her as a vector of influence on the team to suppress the patriots. Rapinoe is the perfect target for some, because as a proud lesbian who won’t be silenced into submission she represents an existential threat to antiquated thinking.
Naturally when she missed a penalty kick that helped ensured Sweden’s victory there was no shortage of people ready to relish in the disappointing moment, gleefully taking screenshots of her crying on the field and screaming “GO WOKE. GO BROKE” while Barbie crossed the $1B mark.
It was a crushing end to an international career for Rapinoe, who was the biggest reason the United States won back-to-back World Cups and put the country on the map in global football. Nobody has ever won three in a row, and the USA wouldn’t have ever been un a position to attempt it, if not for one of the greatest on-field tacticians and facilitators of all time. Rapinoe stood on the field, crushed, feeling like she let her teammates down. In that moment a significant portion of the country decided that being anti-Rapinoe was better than being pro-America.
I’m afraid there’s some bad news: Megan Rapinoe isn’t the reason the United States lost in the round of 16. She didn’t even enter the game until the 99th minute in extra time. No amount of individual heroics could have rescued USA from 90+ minutes of sloppy, unfocused play that showed at every step of the tournament that this team wasn’t tactically ready for the World Cup.
Sure, she missed a penalty — as did Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara. This was a team failure, not at a Rapinoe level, or even a player level. It became abundantly clear as their tournament progressed that the structure of the USWNT was broken top-down, and that Vlatko Andonovski was not the right man for the job. His passive, loose coaching style installed to let individual players shine didn’t possess the edge needed to give this team an identity. As a result they sadly limped into the knockout stage and always appeared destined to get obliterated by teams that perhaps didn’t have the individual talent of the USWNT, but had tactics and planning that this team lacked.
There’s nothing wrong with having an expectation of greatness when it comes to the USWNT. On paper there’s every reason to believe they should be world beaters. Even after this defeat there’s still reason to believe that, because the pipeline for talent in the team is deeper than anything the rest of the world has to offer. In four years they’ll be back, hopefully this time with a better coach, a more cohesive plan, and actual tactics — with 2023 serving as a wakeup call.
Sadly, a similar wakeup call will be lost on some people — as they continue to put rhetoric over country and cheer gleefully for a team from the USA losing to Sweden because they are “woke.” Just one problem with that: I regret to inform you that Sweden is woke too.
The dumbest people online: the USWNT lost because they are Too Woke! maybe if they focused on soccer instead of talking about politics they wouldn’t have lost— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) August 7, 2023
The team they lost to: pic.twitter.com/12615OoEIg
I hope one day the people happy about the USWNT losing can learn to love America. It’s a shame to see so much anti-America sentiment from some people. Maybe in four years they’ll be ready to be patriots again, because the USWNT won’t stop.