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.
  • Follow all of our Women's World Cup coverage here.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

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."

Read more: Critics are slamming the US Women's National Soccer Team for celebrating their landslide 13-0 defeat of Thailand — but others have defended the team and say the backlash is sexist

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.

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USWNT highlights from the Women's World Cup
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USWNT highlights from the Women's World Cup
United States' Carli Lloyd, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring their side's third goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Chile at Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Chile goalkeeper Claudia Endler lunges for the ball to make a safe during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Chile at Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, June 16, 2019. US won 3-0. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
United States' Carli Lloyd celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between the United States and Chile at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
United States' Carli Lloyd, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Chile at Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, June 16, 2019. Lloyd scored twice in US' 3-0 victory. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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)
United States' Alex Morgan, centre, scores her team's 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)
REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Mallory Pugh of USA shots to goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between USA and Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 11, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Megan Rapinoe of United States of America celebrates with the supporters after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between USA and Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 11, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Mallory Pugh of the USA celebrates after scoring her team's eleventh goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between USA and Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 11, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Cathrin Mueller - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Final score on the scoreboard after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between USA and Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 11, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
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"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."

Read more: Why the World Cup format encourages teams like Team USA to score as many goals as possible, even in a blowout

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.

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