U.S. striker Alex Morgan was coy when asked about her tea-drinking celebration against England, simply saying that she “wanted to keep it interesting.”
The American forward scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over England in the World Cup semifinal, nodding home Lindsey Horan’s cross in the 31st minute.
After scoring, Morgan celebrated by pretending to drink a cup of tea, which was branded as “disrespectful” by some observers.
Morgan indicated that the celebration was inspired by one of her teammates, who herself produced an instantly iconic celebration in the quarterfinal against France by lofting her arms skyward after scoring both of her goals.
“I wanted to keep it interesting,” Morgan said after the game. “I know Megan Rapinoe has the best celebrations so I had to try to step up this game.”
Morgan did step up on Tuesday in Lyon, scoring her sixth goal of the tournament to draw level with England’s Ellen White in the race for the Golden Boot.
Her goal put the U.S. in the final of a tournament where they have been followed by controversy.
From the outcry over their celebrations against Thailand to Rapinoe’s feud with Donald Trump to Phil Neville’s protestations against U.S. staff scouting out England’s team hotel, there has always been a non-soccer story surrounding the USWNT in France.
Morgan suggested that her celebration may have been inspired by those persistent discussions, saying her team is staying cool among all the hysteria.
“We have a lot of noise around this team and it doesn’t affect this team, and so I think we’re just drinking the tea,” Morgan said.
The American striker indicated that Rapinoe may have played a part in planning the celebration, a charge that Rapinoe didn’t exactly deny.
“I’m always in the mix on things but we can’t give away all the trade secrets,” Rapinoe said with a smile.
Having gone through a gauntlet of France and England in the semifinal, Morgan says her team is now stronger for having come out the other side.
“This team has had so much thrown at us and I feel like we didn't take the easy route to the final this tournament,” Morgan said.
“And that’s the tea.”