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Saturday Sports: Women's World Cup, U.S. Open


I wait all week to say, it's time for sports.


SIMON: International women's football - the Women's World Cup now happening in France. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. I'm a little lost. There's no abhorring dinosaurs.

SIMON: Well, I - you know, Stu Rushfield, our technical director, suggested a new one. Ready? OK?


SIMON: Adore the dinosaur. Not bad, right?

GOLDMAN: Not bad.

SIMON: I hope he was talking about the Raptors and not me. But in any event, well, it's a - abhor the dinosaurs. A couple matches of the Women's World Cup, a couple more tomorrow, including the U.S. against Chile, following their 13-0 victory over Thailand. Do you think Chile stands a better chance?

GOLDMAN: No. Well, maybe a better chance than 13-nil. That was a lot. Chile is playing in its first Women's World Cup, doesn't have a lot of experience, although it does have some good players, goalkeeper Christiane Endler, midfielder Francisca Lara. But the U.S. is just too much right now, Scott. Not sure it will be 13-nil, but should be win No. 2.

SIMON: I have to ask, what about the criticism the U.S. team faced following the celebrations as the score mounted - not, you know, goals six, seven and eight, but when it got to 10, 11, 12 and 13?


SIMON: That it was just - that it just wasn't classy. And I know we're two men talking about this, but I have criticized male athletes for rubbing the noses of their opponents in the dirt with celebrations. And, you know, you're playing the World Cup. Criticism is part of the package.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, I mean, Abby Wambach, the great U.S. player - former U.S. player, said, you know, there wouldn't be this criticism if it were men, and I think that's wrong. I think there would've been. You know, it was excessive with the later goals, as you mentioned.

U.S. women's national team member Mallory Pugh says the team hasn't really talked about it as a team. There've been various explanations by team members to media, you know, that one person said they had a lot of stress building coming into the World Cup; they wanted to let it out. For some of the young women, it was a realization of a life dream, scoring in the World Cup, so they were excited.

Look; no one begrudges them the number of goals scored. It's important to score a lot in the group stage. But, yeah, probably best from now on if it gets lopsided again to mute things a bit and act like you've been there, right?

SIMON: That's what Walter Payton said. Sports writers in France - I benefit from following that a little - say the celebrations made the U.S. team look like strutting, dancing, overweening imperialists and has made them the least popular team in the World Cup.

GOLDMAN: How do you really feel? Yeah, really.

SIMON: Well, I was quoting - oh, never mind. OK.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) No, how do the French really feel? Yeah.

SIMON: How do the French really feel?

You're in California this week for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. We've been accused of not giving enough attention to golf on this program.


SIMON: OK, so you're in Pebble - you've been in Pebble Beach. In any event, moving on.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Oh, mean.

SIMON: I've got to ask you about the NBA. And you know, abhor - adore the dinosaur. What about the argument that the Warriors, you know, were practically limping by the end? And...

GOLDMAN: Well...

SIMON: Yes. Go ahead.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, you know, let's do adore the dinosaur and acknowledge they played really well to beat the Warriors. But, you know, the argument, I think, is valid. I think definitely could've been different with a healthy Kevin Durant and, at the end, Klay Thompson, who tore the ACL in his left knee in that last game after he had been playing really well.

You know, Steve Kerr was asked that question, though - the head coach for Golden State. What if Klay hadn't been injured? And he shut things down, simply saying, he was. And that's the ultimate answer. Injuries happen. They happened, and the Raptors won.

SIMON: Is it going to - is a team on its way to the finals going to start subbing more of its regulars? And does that raise a question about, is it sportsmanship? Is that what the fans pay hundreds of dollars for a seat to see?

GOLDMAN: That's an interesting question. You know, Kerr gave voice to this when he wondered if the wear and tear of five straight seasons getting to the finals led to these injuries.

There is a science of athletic fatigue. Basketball writer Henry Abbott wrote about it in ESPN The Magazine a couple years ago. In it, he talked to exercise physiology expert Dr. Michael Joyner, who said humans can't sustain more than five all-out efforts every two weeks. So considering that, maybe coaches will look at what happened to Golden State and look at maybe resting guys more during the regular season.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.