Big Ben Tuesday: Unshakable Meghan Rapinoe and Unlikable Alex Morgan


LYON, FRANCE – The annoying four day span of no (real) baseball is upon us! I’m left to talk about #soccer. The fate of the US team was determined in large part by two key penalties: the failed attempt by England’s Stephanie Houghton in the semis and Megan Rapinoe’s game winner in the finals. Rapinoe’s body language before the kick left little doubt as to where the ball would end up.

In the semi-finals, the U.S. had a tenuous one goal lead. England had just had a tying goal reversed on replay for offsides and was pressuring for the equalizer. U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn was called for the penalty after a review and Houghton prepared to try to tie the game.

While waiting for the referees, she paced and fidgeted. Apparently, she was only told that day that she would be on penalty duty. When the whistle blew, her weak shot was easily smothered by U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The shot had little pace and was too close to the keeper.

Didn’t even have to extend her arms…

Cut to Sunday’s final when the U.S. was awarded a penalty in a scoreless game for a reckless play by Stefanie van der Gragt of the Netherlands. The Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, regarded as the best goalie in the tournament, had kept her team in it with several early saves.

The pressure was starting to mount on the U.S. As Rapinoe prepared for the shot, she hardly moved and her face revealed little. The weight of the tournament and her war of words with the Trumpsterfire were bearing down on her. When the whistle blew she calmly punched it in with the goaltender frozen in place. Rose Lavelle added a beauty left footer a few minutes later and the Cup was all but won.

We’re the two best friends that anyone has ever had…

They say the heart rate of the greatest hockey players actually decreases when the puck is on their sticks. The great ones perform in the biggest moments because they can stay calm under duress. Rapinoe’s pre-shot body language said “I will score,” Haughton’s said “I hope I don’t miss.”

Her partner, WNBA star Sue Bird, said this about Rapinoe.

You just cannot shake that girl. She’s going to do her thing, at her own damn speed, to her own damn rhythm, and she’s going to apologize to exactly NO ONE for it.

On the other hand, I found Alex Morgan to be pretty unlikable. First it was her unapologetic, over-the-top celebrations in routing a Thailand team that was put together twenty minutes before the game. Then she wasted no time in throwing the gender card when people complained about her tea celebration, comparing it to men players grabbing their “sacks. I wouldn’t have expected to find myself complaining about an attractive female athlete’s use of the word “sacks” but here were are.

Sweet victory

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as #metoo as the next guy (sack jokes notwithstanding) and think the pay discrepancy between women and men world cup players is loony. But she was (tea) bagging an entire country, that was not the time to play the gender card. It cheapened the legitimate complaints.

In both cases she could have owned her behavior, but instead she made excuses and whined. She should be referred to only as A-Morg because she is clearly the female A-Rod. (Though A-Rod twerks better.)

That’s it for me. I promise not to write about soccer for at least two years. And I kept it under a thousand words, thank you All-Star Break! Come back tomorrow for a guy who was snubbed in the MTM All-Star voting this year, Angry Ward.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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