REIMS, France – United States captain Megan Rapinoe said hammering Thailand 13-0 in the Women’s World Cup was all “part of growing the game” after a win so lopsided there were suggestions they should have eased up to save the Thais from embarrassment.
Rapinoe scored the ninth goal for the title-holders, one of 10 in the 2nd half as the USA surpassed the tournament record of 11-0, set by Germany against Argentina in 2007.
“We have the utmost respect for everyone we play but it’s the World Cup and that’s part of it. It’s part of growing the game. They’ll improve from here,” said Rapinoe.
Alex Morgan starred with 5 goals in the Group F opener in Reims, in Champagne country, as the USA pulverized a Thailand side playing at just their second World Cup.
This was always going to be a daunting challenge for the Chaba Kaew, who made it to France thanks to their run to the semifinals at last year’s Asian Cup.
“There are some teams here that, since the last World Cup, have only played a handful of games, or only the qualifiers. It’s embarrassing for the federations, and for FIFA as well,” said Rapinoe as she reflected on the gulf between the world’s top sides and the rest.
Not that Thailand players are necessarily minnows, as they sit 34th in the FIFA rankings, higher than 6 other sides competing at this World Cup.
‘Feet on the ground’
One TV commentator said the win was so comprehensive that the USA should have stopped attacking late in the game, when the result wasn’t in doubt.
But the 33-year-old Rapinoe said the champions were happy to snatch the goals record from Germany as they go in search of their fourth world title.
“I was hoping we’d beat Germany! I had that in mind,” joked Rapinoe.
“I didn’t really think about that while we were playing but right when we walked off. We always want to have any world record and anything we can get over the Germans, we’ll take it.”
As well as Morgan’s 5 goals, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis both scored twice, while there was one goal each for Lindsey Horan, Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and veteran Carli Lloyd.
Goal difference may be important in deciding who wins the group, with the USA facing Chile next before taking on Sweden, the team that defeated them in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
However, if they win the group, they could end up facing host France in the quarterfinals.
“I definitely think we need to keep our feet on the ground and I think we will, but I do think that we created a lot of good energy and that’s something that can help carry us forward,” said Mewis, the 26-year-old midfielder who was making her World Cup finals debut.
The Americans’ wild goal celebrations in such a one-sided game, though, were not to everyone’s taste.
Former Canadian international player Kaylyn Kyle, working as an analyst for Canada’s TSN at the tournament, said on air: “As a Canadian we would just never ever think of doing something like that … For me it’s disrespectful, it’s disgraceful.”
Kyle said later on social media she had received death threats for her comments, but repeated that she felt the Americans’ celebrations were “excessive and disrespectful.”
Many Twitter users also criticized the show of joy with the hashtag “UglyAmericans”.
“A classless winner is worse than a sore loser, regardless of gender,” said one tweet.
USA Today columnist Nancy Armour was unapologetic.
“Take the pearl clutching and righteous indignation somewhere else. This is the World Cup, not a rec league tournament,” she wrote.
USA coach Jill Ellis hit back at suggestions her players could have eased up and spared 34th-ranked Thailand complete humiliation.
“This is a world championship so every team that is here has been fantastic to get to this point. To be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents,” Ellis said.
Captain Megan Rapinoe said her team had been overjoyed at setting the record score but insisted they did respect all their opponents.
Thailand’s deflated coach Nuengruethai Sathongwien said she had no excuses, adding: “We accept that they are better.” – Rappler.com