REIMS, France — 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. 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. Were the three-time World Cup champions being unsportsmanlike or merely sending a message to the rest of the field?
Alex Morgan was asked afterward about the display of hugs, high-fives, and posturing for the many American fans at Stade Auguste-Delaune.
“I think in the moment, every time we score a goal in a World Cup — you’ve dreamt of it. I dreamt of it since I was a little girl,” she said. “You know, winning a World Cup and being back there for the third time, we want that fourth star. So tonight we knew that any goal could matter in this group-stage game. And when it comes to celebrations, I think this was a really good team performance and I think it was important for us to celebrate together.”
Those celebrations drew ire on social media, some of it directed at veteran Megan Rapinoe for twirling and turf-sliding after her goal — which made it 9-0. A World Cup-record seven U.S. players scored in the game.
Morgan was rebuked for holding up four fingers after her fourth goal, which made it 10-0.
“A lot of this is about building momentum, and so as a coach I don’t find it my job to rein my players in,” coach Jill Ellis said. “This is what they’ve dreamt about. This is for them. This is a world championship”
Rapinoe, interviewed on FOX Sports on Wednesday, also addressed the criticism.
“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. It was an explosion of joy,” she said. “If our crime is joy, then we will take that.”