By Rachel Joyner
PARIS (Reuters) – Veteran U.S. forward Carli Lloyd defended her World Cup team mates on Friday after widespread criticism of their exuberant goal celebrations during the 13-0 trouncing of Thailand.
Lloyd herself earned some credit for consoling luckless Thai goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying and accompanying her off the field after the record-smashing match in Reims on Tuesday.
“This team is full of players who want to battle it out, to go full throttle,” Lloyd said on Friday. “But we are human … You’ve got to feel for a goalkeeper letting in 13 goals. If you don’t, then I don’t think you have much of a heart.”
A three-time Olympian and scorer of critical goals that helped the United States win the World Cup in 2015, Lloyd scored the thirteenth goal of the night against Thailand.
Afterwards, some spectators and former players chided the U.S. team for being disrespectful, particularly as some of the celebrations looked choreographed.
Some of the Thai players left the pitch in tears.
“It’s no disrespect to our opponent or who we’re playing,” Lloyd told a news conference in Paris.
“I understand, and I get my teammates, and support them.”
After the game, Thai goalie Chor Charoenying thanked Lloyd for her compassion at the end. “Your words that you told me make me strong,” she said on Twitter.
Lloyd tweeted back: “All you can do is give it your best each and every day. Keep fighting and never give up!!”
But that positive exchange has not quelled debate.
Former U.S. goalkeeping star Hope Solo was full of praise for the Americans’ performance, but said she found it “tough” to watch some of their celebrations given the scoreline.
“You do want the game to be celebrated and you do want to see players having fun but at the same time I thought some of the celebrations were a little overboard,” she wrote in a column for the Guardian newspaper. “We haven’t won the World Cup yet.”
Lloyd said her exchange with Chor Charoenying highlighted the importance of good sportsmanship at the World Cup.
“I think that’s what the sport is all about,” she said.
“In wins and losses, you know, I think character is a true element in the sport.”
(Reporting by Rachel Joyner; Editing by Luke Baker and Andrew Cawthorne)