Add The Ringer’s Bill Simmons to the list of the loudest male voices in sports media shouting into the abyss about the United States Women’s National Team. Now, you don’t have to hand it to Simmons, but at least he didn’t go the Alexi Lalas route of pretending to not take a side on the U.S. women’s team when it’s clear where his convictions lie.
In the midst of a six-week hiatus, Simmons came out of hibernation to record a two-part podcast and give his expert opinion on the U.S. being prematurely knocked out of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup by Sweden on Sunday.
Simmons gave praise to Carli Lloyd, who he said was the only person who was calling out the “red flags galore” in real-time. Simmons described the former USWNT legend and current Fox Sports analyst as the one person in the horror movie that knows the house is haunted.
He then did a very unconvincing job of mocking those who disagreed with Lloyd’s criticism.
“Everybody’s like, shut up. You’re not being patriotic. You just wish you were still on the team.”
“This team, you could see it before the Vietnam game when it was like, look at the new Nike suits. Look at these new suits. And they’re all styling as they head into the locker room. They’re running commercials and every player has a commercial. There’s players that have never done anything that have commercials. And the vibe was just off…”
“We did the usual thing that we’ve been doing since 2019, 2015 of ‘Oh well, they almost scored a bunch of times. Oh, if that would have got in or oh, some bad luck.’”
We have no idea what Simmons is really trying to get at here, considering both of those 2015 and 2019 teams were World Cup winners. It’s fair to criticize the performance of the 2023 Women’s World Cup team that scored just four goals in four games, but we’re not entirely sure how that’s comparable to two teams that won back-to-back tournaments.
Simmons also went off on Alex Morgan, comparing her to a “coach’s daughter” in youth soccer.
“It’s like being on an AYSO [American Youth Soccer Organization] team that your kid’s on and the coach is playing somebody at striker and everyone’s like, ‘Why don’t they play Sally at striker instead of the coach’s daughter? Well you know, she’s the coach’s daughter, she’s gotta play there.’”
And he complained about a level of perceived arrogance that stemmed from the USWNT and how they’ve latched their identity on to the likes of Megan Rapinoe (37) and Morgan (34).
“I think one of the differences between the discourse with women’s sports and men’s sports is that in men’s sports, we grasp for angles,” Simmons explained. “And if somebody is disappointing in some way, we really go nuts. Like think of how James Harden has been treated over the last 12 years. He’s one of the 35-best players ever and has taken just an incredible amount of [crap].
Simmons used Harden as a euphemism for Morgan.
“If you take away that Thailand game, she has scored two goals in the last 17 World Cup games,” he said. “This is the striker. This is the one who’s supposed to be the most dangerous player on the field. Who is supposed to produce goals and she hasn’t produced goals since the mid-2010’s on the national level. And yet it’s Alex Morgan. She’s supposed to be the next one. We gotta keep propping her up, pretending she’s a superstar. She’s not a superstar. She’s really, honestly never been a superstar.”
Are you sure about that?
Morgan has twice been named U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year (2012, 2018), Morgan is also a four-time CONCACAF Player of the Year (2013, 2016, 2017, 2018), a five-time FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World 11 selection (2016, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022) and a three-time finalist for FIFA World Player of the Year (2012, 2019, 2022).
Maybe now that she’s perhaps past her prime, you can describe Morgan as being “overrated.” But to act like she’s never been a superstar and to compare her to being a “coach’s daughter” is just intellectually dishonest. We understand the point Bill is trying to make here, but trying to undersell her accomplishments to prove a point is beneath even him.
He was fairer with his criticism of Rapinoe, comparing her to Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat, serving as more of a cheerleader in the twilight of her career.
“Then you have Rapinoe who is 37 years old, who’s just, unfortunately, great career, legendary, true legend, huge big-time player, and when you hit your late-30s in soccer, it’s a wrap. She looked like Udonis Rapinoe, not Megan Rapinoe, and comes out for the last 25 minutes of this game and can’t do anything then misses the penalty kick.”
At the end of the day, Simmons makes some solid points, more so than Lalas’ criticism. But a lot of the argument loses weight once you compare Alex Morgan to that of a “coach’s daughter.”