(Reuters) - The United States’ record 13-0 drubbing of Thailand at the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday did not sit well with everybody, with opinion divided on whether the team should have so mercilessly punished a hapless opponent.
Striker Alex Morgan scored five times as the holders began their World Cup campaign with the largest margin of victory in either the men’s or women’s World Cup.
Former American international Taylor Twellman however criticized the team on social media, believing the side’s goal celebrations in Reims were excessive.
“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.
He was also critical of the U.S. women for showing their hand ahead of games against more formidable opponents.
“Not sure why the #USWNT is ‘wasting’ any of their set plays when the score is 3-0. Bury (Thailand) then move on but don’t use anything that could be needed in future games,” he wrote.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis defended her team’s approach and said it would have been disrespectful to Thailand to ease up despite the huge lead.
“To be respectful to opponents is to play hard against them,” Ellis told reporters. “It’s a tournament where goal differential is a criteria.
“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.
“I respect Thailand, I spoke to some of them afterwards and they should keep their heads up. This is part of the growth of the game.”
Record international goalscorer Abby Wambach also defended her former team mates.
“For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited,” the scorer of a record 184 international goals tweeted to her 679,000 followers.
She also questioned whether there was an element of sexism in the criticism.
“Imagine it being you out there,” she added.
“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?”
Rob Stone, meanwhile, the host of the Fox Sports World Cup coverage on American television, sided with Twellman.
“This got humiliating at some point. It just became an exercise in target practice,” he said. “You know what I wanted to do? Pull it back, knock it around.”
Former U.S. international Alexi Lalas, another member of the panel, however, defended the Americans.
“It’s not their problem they’re playing against a poor team,” he said.
“The U.S. team is not here to be anybody’s friend. The U.S. team is here to win a World Cup.
“The U.S. team each and every time the whistle blows is going to score as many goals as possible.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Peter Rutherford
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