The US Women’s National Team celebrates victories on two fronts today. The first and most important win is the $24 million that the team settled in their equal pay lawsuit against the American Football Federation. That settlement was clearly long overdue and well deserved for a team that has reached the World Cup finals in each of the last three tournaments and won the championship twice in a row.
Their other much smaller win revolves around the team’s 5-0 win over New Zealand in Sunday’s SheBelieves Cup. However, what was a celebration for the US Women’s National Team was a huge embarrassment for a member of the New Zealand team. Despite her team losing 5-0, Meikayla Moore led the game in goals by three. The only problem is that all three of them were sent into the back of her own net.
It wasn’t long before the attack on the own goal began. Already in the fifth minute, the United States tried to cross a ball to the middle. Moore stuck out her leg hoping she could keep the ball out of bounds for a corner, but she miscalculated and her deflection went past New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler. No problem. Those things happen. You just need to let it pass and get your head back in the game. You have to do it quickly. You can’t pass up a minute where you’re still thinking about that mistake.
Less than a minute later, the United States pushed forward on the attack. Again the team tried to send a cross to the middle. Fortunately for New Zealand, the intended target, American striker Margaret Purce snapped on the head. She barely made contact and the ball was probably headed out of bounds. Unfortunately for New Zealand, Moore played a good defense. Moore was right behind Purce during the game and while she probably intended to head the ball out of bounds, Purce’s slight deflection changed the trajectory of the ball and so, instead of lifting the ball out of bounds, Moore bounced the ball again in her own net .
Fast forward thirty minutes. Purce dribbles into the box. She is surrounded by New Zealand defenders. With only two other teammates around, Purce sends a pass in their direction in hopes that something magical will happen. Moore was in perfect position to intercept the pass. She tries to place the ball on her left foot, but can’t quite control it. It bounced off her foot and into New Zealand’s goal. It is now 3-0 USA and all three goals have come from Moore. All Moore can do is put her hands on her legs. She slowly walks back to midfield and refuses to make eye contact with anyone. While the US were clearly happy to extend their lead, their celebration was clearly lackluster compared to their two goals from earlier. You could see it, even they couldn’t imagine what was going through Moore’s head.
The US would score two more times, both of which came from American feet. After the game, New Zealand head coach Jitka Klimková stated that the team was “completely behind her at this difficult moment”. Klimková continued: ‘She had a hard day at the office. It’s clear she’s sad and disappointed, but she’s an incredible person and player who belongs on this team.”
This was Moore’s 50th international performance. She’s been through several ups, downs, heartbreaking losses and thrilling wins, but I doubt any will resonate with her like Sunday’s game.
The SheBelieves Cup ends tomorrow with a double-header as New Zealand takes on the Czech Republic, followed by the United States against Iceland.