'Exuberant celebrations are part of a World Cup': US coach Ellis brushes off criticism

AFP , Saturday 15 Jun 2019

World Cup
The United States have been criticised for the manner in which they celebrated their goals in their 13-0 demolition of Thailand (Photo: AFP)

United States coach Jill Ellis insists her team's allegedly over-exuberant goal celebrations in their record demolition of hapless Thailand at the women's World Cup were nothing to do with humiliating their opponents and all about pride from "years and years of hard work".

The holders began their defence of the trophy by trouncing Thailand on Tuesday, scoring 10 second-half goals on the way to a 13-0 victory, a record for the biggest win at a World Cup.

Criticism of the Americans' celebrations was widespread, with former Canada international Kaylyn Kyle labelling them "disgraceful" in her role as a television analyst.

But Ellis defended her team and her own reactions, citing the example of Carli Lloyd, the 36-year-old veteran star of the 2015 final win over Japan who came off the bench against Thailand to score the last goal.

"That night was about celebrating people. I was most excited on the last goal we scored because that was Carli Lloyd and I know all the history and all the background of that player to get to that moment and what that meant," Ellis said at a press conference in Paris ahead of the USA's second Group F outing against Chile on Sunday.

"The human element is important as well. It might seem a scoreline to you, but it's also years and years of work, and the pride I had in that moment -- I didn't know the score, I wasn't celebrating the goal, I was celebrating Carli and I think that's important."

Alex Morgan led the way for the USA in their opening match by scoring five times, a feat only previously achieved in a World Cup game by her compatriot Michelle Akers.

"Goals are hard to come by in our sport and I think the meaning behind those goals, the people behind those goals, you have got to celebrate that," Ellis added.

"You have to seize those moments. I have seen a lot of goals in this tournament and there have been a lot of unique celebrations, exuberant celebrations. That is part of a World Cup."

Another big victory could be in the offing against a Chile side ranked 39th in the world, five places below Thailand.

Three more points would see Ellis's team close on securing top spot in the group before their last outing against Sweden, and would ensure they and France remain on course to meet in the quarter-finals.

Ellis dismissed suggestions she might encourage her players to go easy in an attempt to avoid finishing top of their section, thereby delaying a possible encounter with the hosts.

"I struggle to tell my players not to tackle each other in training a day before a game, so I think at this point it's making sure your focus is on yourself and that you put yourself in the best position to advance in this tournament," she said.

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