The goals were one thing, the celebrations another.
The U.S. women’s national team faced criticism following its record-breaking 13-0 rout of Thailand on Tuesday night in Reims, France. The win set a World Cup record for goals and margin of victory. Alex Morgan alone had five goals, matching the most in one game in tournament history.
But there were questions about whether the Americans should have celebrated goals once the game was well in hand with displays of hugs, high-fives, and posturing. Were the three-time World Cup champions being unsportsmanlike, or merely sending a message to the rest of the field?
Those celebrations drew ire on social media, some of it directed at Megan Rapinoe for twirling and turf-sliding after her goal — which made it 9-0. Morgan was rebuked for holding up four fingers after her fourth goal, which made it 10-0.
“If anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, not playing the right way, not being a good ambassador, they can come at us,” Rapinoe told Fox Sports on Wednesday. “It was an explosion of joy. If our crime is joy, then we will take that.”
Rapinoe pointed to the team’s young players — including Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh and Lindsey Horanwho — who scored their first World Cup goals and said they had every right to celebrate.
Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press
In a postgame show of sportsmanship, the U.S. team also consoled some of the emotional Thai players. Morgan offered encouragement to forward Miranda Nild, who like Morgan played college soccer at Cal.
Celebrating and piling on the goals are two different issues. At the World Cup, goal difference becomes important in deciding tiebreakers for the knockout stage. The U.S. team is in a group with nemesis Sweden, as well as Thailand and Chile.
“For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is their first World Cup goal, and they should be excited,” former U.S. teammate Abby 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?”
Wednesday’s games: France recovered from a terrible own goal to beat Norway 2-1 in Nice as the host nation (2-0-0) assumed control of GroupA. Eugenie Le Sommer scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute. Valerie Gauvin gave France the lead after halftime, but Norway (1-1-0) tied it when Wendie Renard turned a cross into her own net. Renard, considered one of the best defenders in the world, appeared to be in tears as she raised her face to the sky in anguish. …
Also in Group A, Asisat Oshoala became the second player form Nigeria (1-1-0) to score in two different Women’s World Cup tournaments with a late goal in a 2-0 victory over South Korea (0-2-0) in Grenoble. … Germany (2-0-0) is atop Group B after a second consecutive 1-0 victory, this one coming in Valenciennes against Spain (1-1-0) on Sara Däbritz’s goal in the 42nd minute.