Megan Rapinoe says Team USA's 'only crime was an explosion of joy' amid criticisms of running up the score at the World Cup
- The U.S. Women's National Team received some criticism for running up the score and what was perceived as excessive celebrations as they beat Thailand, 13-0, in their opening match of the World Cup.
- U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe defended the team, saying their "only crime was an explosion of joy."
- Some felt the U.S. was not disrespectful in their scoring and celebrating, but that it would increase the targets on their back in the tournament.
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The U.S. Women's National Team routed Thailand, 13-0, in its first match of the 2019 Women's World Cup.
As the U.S. continued to pour in goals, with little resistance from Thailand, some in the soccer world criticized Team USA for running up the score. That the women's team also celebrated each goal, sometimes with choreographed moves, only fueled some of the criticisms.
Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina wrote: "To celebrate a goal this way after you've made the score 9-0 is so ridiculous and so pathetic that I actually couldn't believe what I was watching."
Former Canadian soccer player Kaylyn Kyle said on TSN that the celebrations were "disrespectful" and "disgraceful."
However, after the match, U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe denied that the U.S. did anything wrong, saying their "only crime was an explosion of joy."
"First of all, this is the World Cup," Rapinoe said, adding that many of the roster's players have dreamt of making it there, so they were naturally joyful after scoring.
"Honestly, if anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, not playing the right way, not being the right ambassador for the sport, they can come at us," Rapinoe said. "I think our only crime was an explosion of joy last night."
Rapinoe said the team had been "pent up" and that off-field issues - such as a gender discrimination lawsuit over pay that the team filed against U.S. Soccer in March - contributed to the team's performance in its first match.
"I think for us, it was just so much joy, so much happiness in that moment ... if our crime is joy, then we'll take that."
Not everyone agreed with the criticisms about running up the score. Many have noted that goal differential makes a difference in advancing beyond the group stage, so the U.S. was simply increasing their chances.
"When you're playing in a World Cup, every single goal may count," head coach Jill Ellis said. "That's why we had to keep going."
Others, like the analysts on Fox Sports, felt that the U.S. letting up during the match would have been more disrespectful to Thailand than continuing to score.
Fox analyst and former U.S. men's player Alexi Lalas warned that the target on Team USA's back would only grow because of the win.
The U.S. plays Chile in its next match.