The US women’s soccer team did not make many friends after beginning its World Cup title defense with a tournament-record 13-0 blowout over Thailand in Group F on Tuesday in Reims, France. Alex Morgan scored five goals in a dominating win for the Americans.
The lopsided score didn’t draw the brunt of the criticism, it was what many deemed were the over-the-top celebrations by the Americans, especially after some of their late goals when the game was already out of hand. The reason the blowout score itself didn’t get receive criticism is because goal differential is an important part of the World Cup.
ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman took to Twitter to say he had a problem with the late-goal celebrations, especially goal No. 9 which was scored by captain Megan Rapinoe:
“Obviously we have the utmost respect for everyone we play, but it’s the World Cup,” Rapinoe said after the match.
The Americans meant no disrespect, said Morgan, but they simply wanted to position themselves for a run at a second consecutive title.
“We really just came into the game really wanting to showcase ourselves,” Morgan said. “Every goal matters in this tournament and that’s what we were working on.”
Perhaps the harshest criticism of the U.S. came from Canadian analysts on TSN’s World Cup show. Former World Cup players Clare Rustad, Kaylyn Kyle, and Diana Matheson called the Americans’ celebrations “disprespectful” and “disgraceful.” They especially took aim at Rapinoe and Morgan for what they called “classless behavior.”
Former US player Abby Wambach, the leading goal scorer in U.S. women’s soccer history with 184, came to the defense of the American team.
“For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited,” Wambach tweeted. “Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate. Would you tell a men’s team to not score or celebrate?”
After the match, manager Jill Ellis defended her team’s aggressive style of play throughout the blowout.
“This is a world championship, so every team here has been fantastic to get to this point,” Ellis said. “And I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents. It’s a tournament where goal differential is important.”
— with AP
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