In his latest blog for the Chelsea website, USA blogger Stephen Rea talks about high scoring games after watching the Women's World Cup in France... I’ve seen Chelsea win by a huge score twice, and both times were in Ireland.
In August 1986, the Blues played against the League of Ireland team EMFA in the sleepy town of Kilkenny. It was the most laid-back, low-key game I’ve ever attended, with the spectators even coming onto the pitch at half-time for a kickabout. Chelsea won 8-1.
In July 1999, the Londoners were back in the Emerald Isle again to take on Irish League club Omagh Town in Northern Ireland. It finished with an 8-0 Chelsea victory in a match organised to raise money for the victims of the Omagh bombing.
But both of those were friendlies against amateur sides, playing many levels below us. Last week I was at the women’s World Cup fixture when the USA rattled up a 13-0 win against Thailand in Reims, the capital of France’s Champagne region.
It was surreal and I’m still struggling to make sense of it. I’ve been going to professional football matches for more than four decades and I’ve never experienced anything like it. This was a game at the globe’s most prestigious tournament which had outscored some American football fixtures I’ve attended. It was the first time I had to repeatedly check the scoreboard because I was losing track of the number of goals going in.
The high-energy tempo was obvious from the kick-off at the Stade Auguste-Delaune stadium, but it increased in the second period. With the score at 8-0, the ball went out near the States’ bench. A member of the coaching staff jumped up, immediately threw it back, and urged the player to take the throw-in quickly.
It was interesting just how out of their depth the Asians were against the Americans. They were swamped from the off, their goalkeeper the smallest I’ve ever seen at an adult level. But despite being crushed by the relentless US juggernaut, after the final whistle they gathered in the centre of the field, some in tears, and walked around waving to the fans.
The incredible reception they received was heart-warming considering the humiliation they had just suffered. The level of empathy and the lack of enmity was a refreshing change from the male version of the sport.
It was a cakewalk for the Americans in Champagne, and they remain the favourites to be tasting the region’s famous export after the final next month.