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USWNT responds to critics with golf-clap celebration against Chile

Unapologetic in the wake of criticism, the players came up with a plan to use one of the most demure celebrations in sports.

United States' Carli Lloyd, center, celebrates with Lindsey Horan and Tierna Davidson, right, after scoring the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between the United States and Chile at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS — The United States women’s national team got a lot of flak on social media for emphatically celebrating all 13 goals during its merciless World Cup opening victory over Thailand. Unapologetic in the wake of criticism, the players came up with a plan for Saturday’s match against Chile to use one of the most demure celebrations in sports — a golf clap.

“I can’t take credit for it,” said Carli Lloyd, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Chile and golf clapped after her first goal in the 11th minute. “I’m not sure if Lindsey [Horan] is taking credit for it, but she had told me before that’s what we’re gonna do, so I just went along with it after I did my little celebration. But it was fun. I think it made a statement on the sideline.”

Horan only took partial credit, saying teammate Emily Sonnett originally threw out various ideas, including handshakes and the golf clap.

“Yeah, we just wanted to do something different today,” Horan said with a chuckle.

“The whole team is having fun with this,” U.S. striker Alex Morgan said. 

The debate that raged after the Thailand match centered on whether celebrating every goal of the lopsided Thailand match was excessive and singled out two goal celebrations in particular — Megan Rapinoe’s twirls and knee-slide across the pitch after scoring the ninth goal and Lloyd’s exuberance after the 13th goal in the 92nd minute of the game.

Thailand players did not seem offended by any of it and thanked the U.S. players after the match for being a program to look up to and for encouraging them to continue striving for more.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis said she didn’t notice the golf clap during the game, and she also didn’t immediately get the likely sarcastic motive behind it. 

“If it was Carli, it was probably a shout-out to her husband. He’s a big-time golfer, if you didn’t know,” Ellis said. 

During a news conference the day before the Chile game, Ellis also addressed the Thailand celebrations one last time, saying, “The last thing I’ll say about that is: That night was about celebrating people. I mean, I was most excited on the last goal 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. So I think that’s important, to put human element in this 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. I think that’s important.”

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