'The whole team is having fun with this' - USWNT responds to controversy with golf clap celebration

Carli Lloyd USWNT celebration 2019
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Carli Lloyd celebrated her goals with a polite applause after her side was roundly criticized for its celebrations against Thailand

The U.S. women’s national team likes to claim that it is in a bubble at this World Cup, but it’s clear that they’ve heard the controversy about their celebrations against Thailand loud and clear.

The USWNT faced withering criticism for its exuberant celebrations in the latter portion of its 13-0 win over Thailand on Tuesday in its World Cup opener.

On Sunday the U.S. had a chance to answer its critics on the field, and it did so in cheeky fashion in its second game of the World Cup.

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Carli Lloyd scored her team’s opener against Chile at Parc des Princes in Paris and after briefly celebrating with her teammates, she turned toward the bench and offered a calm, refined golf clap.

The golf clap was returned from the bench.

“I can’t take credit for it,” Lloyd said after the game, a 3-0 victory for her team that saw it through to the last 16.

“I’m not sure if Lindsey [Horan] is taking credit for it, she had told me if we score that’s what we’re going to 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 there so it was cool.”

Though many members of the team claim to not concern themselves with media coverage during the tournament, Megan Rapinoe admitted her team was more than aware of the controversy.

“I was trying to articulate to the team how during this tournament, you have these days in between, like [the media] have to talk about something new,” Rapinoe said.

“I don’t think it really honestly bothered anyone,” Rapinoe added. “We know our intentions and we felt OK about it, but we want to have fun with everything of course.”

Striker Alex Morgan also didn’t seem especially bothered by some of the vitriol surrounding the USWNT.

“The whole team is having fun with this,” Morgan said.

Though Lloyd said that Horan was involved in the planning of the celebration, Rapinoe wanted to also make sure she got a bit of credit as well.

“I’m always in the mix of course,” Rapinoe said with a smile.

The veteran admitted that her team wanted to respond in some way to the controversy. They just weren’t sure how.

“I thought it would be funny,” Rapinoe said. “Everyone was kind of talking about, ‘Oh what if we did nothing?’ It was kind of hard through, we were holding back a smile for sure.”

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis was also asked about the celebrations, and the manager offered a different, if slightly less plausible explanation.

“If it was Carli I’m guessing it was a shout-out to her husband,” Ellis said. “He’s a big-time golfer in case you didn’t know.”