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Not everyone’s partying: U.S. catches heat for World Cup goal celebrations

  • United States' scorer Lindsey Horan, right, celebrates their side's 3rd goal with Megan Rapinoe during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Thailand at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

  • United States' Alex Morgan, left, comforts Thailand's Miranda Nild, right, after the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Thailand at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Morgan scored five goals during the match. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

  • Fans watch television coverage of the United States' match against Thailand in France at soccer's Women's World Cup, Thursday, June 11, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

  • United States' Megan Rapinoe, right, congratulates teammate Alex Morgan after scoring her fifth goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between the United States and Thailand at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)



AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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.”

Rapinoe pointed to the team’s young players who scored their first World Cup goals and said they had every right to celebrate, including Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh and Lindsey Horan.

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.

Thailand’s players were disappointed, but they have also been on the other end of blowouts. Thailand won a friendly over Indonesia 13-0 last year, and beat Cambodia 11-0 in the group stage of the AFF Women’s Championship.

Celebrating and piling on the goals are really two different issues.

At the World Cup, goal differential becomes important in deciding tie-breakers for the knockout stage. The U.S. team is in a group with nemesis Sweden, as well as Thailand and Chile.

WEDNEDAY’S GAMES France 2, Norway 1

NICE, France — France recovered from a terrible own goal to beat Norway as the host nation remained undefeated at the Women’s World Cup.

Eugenie Le Sommer scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute after video review determined Ingrid Syrstad Engen had fouled Marion Torrent in the area.

Germany 1, Spain 0

VALENCIENNES, France — Germany relied on Sara Däbritz’s goal in the 42nd minute for the win.

Nigeria 2, South Korea 0

GRENOBLE, France — Asisat Oshoala became the second Nigerian player to score in two different Women’s World Cup tournaments with a late goal in a victory over South Korea.