U.S. defends itself after humiliating Thailand at Women’s World Cup

Alex Morgan of the USA celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's twelfth 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 Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

REIMS, France — The U.S. Women’s National Team defended itself against criticism that it humiliated Thailand in its record 13-0 Women’s World Cup victory in France on Tuesday.

Thailand’s players were in tears at the full-time whistle after suffering the heaviest defeat in World Cup history at the hands of the U.S.

There were those on social media who criticized the defending champions for celebrating each goal, even with the match well in hand.

But Alex Morgan — who became only the second American to score five in a World Cup match — told reporters that “every goal counts.”

Morgan, who comforted Thailand player Miranda Nild after the match, said it was important for the team to “continue to go” and score as many as they could in case goal difference would ever prove to be a factor in the group stages.

“We knew that every goal could matter in this group stage game and when it comes to celebrations this was a really good team performance and I think it was important for us to celebrate together,” the striker said.

The 29-year-old, who played a limited role in the World Cup triumph four years ago because of injury, said she felt she was at the “peak of her powers.”

“In the preparation days before this, the team in general was just feeling great,” she said.

Jill Ellis, who could become the first coach to win the Women’s World Cup twice, said her team had showed Thailand respect.

“I think to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents,” she told reporters.

“As a coach, I don’t find it my job to harness my players and rein them in because this is what they’ve dreamed about. This is it for them, this is a world championship.

“I respect Thailand. I celebrate that they’re here. For us, the players are excited and I said afterward when you go into a World Cup you can talk tactics, but it’s about mentality, it is also about confidence, and so getting off on the right foot is important.

“But the reality is we also believe we have more to do no doubt. We’re going to stay humble and we go back to work.

“Games are games, and you’ve got to go out and play and compete, and a lot of this is about building momentum.”

With the U.S. 3-0 up by halftime, the match was effectively over. With the title holders then proceeding to score four goals in the space of six minutes early after the break, it was a rout by the 56th minute.

But Ellis proceeded to make attacking substitutions, bringing on forwards Mallory Pugh, Carli Lloyd and Christen Press, decisions she defended after the match.

“If this is 10-0 in a men’s World Cup are we getting the same questions?” she asked.

“A World Cup is about competing. It is about peaking. It is about priming your players ready for the next game.

“You can tell by my substitutions, you play players who can get hot. And if you can play as many hot as you possibly can, feeling good, feeling the back of the net, that’s so important for a forward and for a midfielder.

“Those feelings are what can help you through the tournament. We have to come out and we have to play as hard as we possibly can in every game. This will be an incredibly hard World Cup. This is only game one.”

Thailand’s manager Nuengrutai Srathongvian did not believe the team’s opponents were morally wrong to continue to press for goals until the end.

Indeed, Srathongvian vowed that the team would improve from such an experience.

“In football, everybody is following the rules, so our opponent is trying their best. The U.S. team was very good. We don’t have any excuse and we accept that they are better,” Srathongvian said.

“We know where we are. Playing the U.S. is not easy, and we know we have to improve in every aspect and improve in our mentality, and the players’ experience cannot be compared to them.

“We have limited resources in terms of the players. We have a limited number of players available, and we are small in build. We have to improve on this aspect.”

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