June 12 (UPI) -- Soccer star Megan Rapinoe responded to criticism about the United States Women's National Team running up the score on Thailand at the World Cup by saying the team's only crime was an "explosion of joy."
The U.S. team beat Thailand 13-0 in the Group F match Tuesday in Reims, France. Striker Alex Morgan scored five goals in the lopsided victory. Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Sam Mewis, Mallory Pugh, Carli Lloyd and Rapinoe also scored. Lavelle and Mewis each had two goals for the team.
Players ran to the bench and celebrated each score. Rapinoe slid in front of her teammates and danced after her goal in the 97th minute, when the U.S. team already had a 9-0 advantage.
The elation drew criticism from analysts and on social media, as players continued to score and celebrate with the victory well in hand. The U.S. team could use its lopsided goal differential as a tie-breaker if it needs help advancing from the group into the knockout round.
"I understand it in part, but honestly, this is the World Cup," Rapinoe told Fox. "It's something that Lindsey and Sam and Rose and Mal, it's something they have been dreaming about for their whole lives. You can't fault them for that joy. If anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, for not playing the right way, not being the right ambassadors for the sport, they can come at us."
"I think our only crime was an explosion of joy last night."
Rapinoe said the U.S. team has been "pent up" and had a "heavy lead-up" before playing in the final first-round game at the Women's World Cup. Host France played in the first game Friday.
"I think for us there was so much joy and so much happiness in that moment," Rapinoe said. "Our bench being able to be involved ... if our crime is joy, we will take that."
Rapinoe's former U.S. teammate Abby Wambach echoed her sentiment, saying that players are excited when they score at the World Cup.
"For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited," Wambach tweeted Tuesday. "Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate. Would you tell a men's team to not score or celebrate?"
The U.S. team will battle Chile in its second Group F matchup at noon Sunday in Paris.