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'An explosion of joy': U.S. defend World Cup celebrations

(Reuters) - U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe on Wednesday defended her under-fire team mates’ exuberant celebrations during their record 13-0 World Cup victory over Thailand in Reims.

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Opinion was split following the one-sided match, with some applauding the Americans for staying focused throughout, while others felt they should have eased off or not celebrated their goals with such enthusiasm.

Former U.S. international Taylor Twellman, now a TV analyst, hit out at the players for their celebrations against beleaguered opponents.

“Celebrating goals (like #9) leaves a sour taste in my mouth like many of you. Curious to see if anyone apologizes for this postgame,” Twellman tweeted to his 327,000 followers.

Rapinoe, who celebrated her team’s ninth goal by sliding to the ground before leaping into the arms of the U.S. substitutes on the sidelines, told Fox Sports she understood the criticism “in part”, but defended her team mates.

“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.

“If our crime is joy, then we’ll take that.”

Co-Captain Alex Morgan told ESPN that “you can never have everyone love you,” when asked about some of the critical comments leveled at her team for the on-field celebrations and the 13-0 drubbing.

“For the celebrations -- these are goals that we have dreamt of our entire life,” Morgan said. “I couldn’t have dreamt of scoring five goals in a World Cup.

“I’m happy just ignoring those comments.”

The U.S.’s next World Cup match is against Chile on Sunday at Paris’ Parc des Princes.

Reporting By Ossian Shine and Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis