By Christianna Silva
The U.S. Women’s National Team absolutely wrecked world records on their Tuesday, June 11 match against Thailand, winning 13-0 and cementing their already well-established position as a major force in the tournament, and in soccer around the world. But the win also sparked wide-spread debate about whether the players scored “too many” goals and celebrated those goals “too much.”
Alex Morgan, the striker who became the second American to ever score five goals in a World Cup match, matching Michelle Aker’s 1991 feat, said the team’s reasoning to keep the score going was simple: “Every goal counts.”
So, they kept scoring. They scored more goals than any other team in tournament history, according to the New York Times. After they won, Morgan and Carli Lloyd, who scored the final goal, comforted some of the Thailand players. Lloyd told the Times she tried to tell Thailand’s goalkeeper, Chor Charoenying, to keep her head up, but that the language barrier got in the way a bit. Then the Times asked Lloyd if any of the American players had considered backing down — if she thought that, maybe, since her team was already in the lead, they didn’t need to win by a whopping 13 goals.
(Per the New York Post, the Men’s World Cup has also seen its share of decimations: El Salvador beat Hungary 10-1 in 1982, and Australia handed American Samoa a 31-0 game in a 2002 qualifying match, due in part to passport issues that forced the latter team to play alternates. It’s not clear if anyone asked either El Salvador or Australia to go easy on their opponents.)
“Whenever you have that mind-set, it’s not good,” Lloyd told the Times. “You never want to beat up on a team that bad. But for us, the goals matter. In this tournament, it’s important. So we just have to keep that throttle down.”
And that’s what they did. Around the 79th minute, according to CNN, USWNT winger Megan Rapinoe scored — giving the U.S. a 9-0 lead. She twirled, slid on the turf, and joined her teammates in a joyous, ecstatic group hug.
Taylor Twellman, a former U.S. men’s team player and current ESPN analyst, tweeted that the celebration left “a sour taste” in his mouth. Current and former members of the Canadian national team said their celebration was “disgraceful" and said they didn't win with "humility" or "grace," a criticism that smacks of the perception that confident women are somehow “less likeable.”
Rob Stone, a sports commentator for Fox Sports, said the number of goals scored was “humiliating” and “an exercise in target practice.” Every other commentator on Stone’s show, though, disagreed with him — as did former USWNT star Abby Wambach.
“For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there [sic] first World Cup goal, and they should be excited,” she tweeted. “Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate.”
The USWNT scored more World Cup goals in 90 minutes than the U.S. Men’s National Team scored in every game for the past decade. So she also posed the question: “Would you tell a men’s team to not score or celebrate?”
And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand celebrated by reminding everyone not only about the impressive 13-0 feat, but that the US Soccer Federation pays the Men’s National Team more for losing than they pay the Women’s National Team for winning. The women’s team filed their lawsuit in 2016, and they’re not alone in speaking out: a survey by the New York Times quoted players in some countries who say they are barely being paid for their work at all.