PARIS (AP) Carli Lloyd had just scored on an 18-yard volley to put the United States ahead 11 minutes in against Chile. After leaping, pumping a fist and hugging teammate Lindsey Horan, she raised both hands chin high and made four tiny pitter-patter claps, the type seen more frequently at Pebble Beach than Parc des Princes (WATCH HERE).
A message? You bet.
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Easy wins and lots of goals are par for the course when it comes to the U.S. women’s soccer team.
“I can’t take credit for it. I’m not sure if Lindsey is taking credit for it,” Lloyd said after a 3-0 victory Sunday night advanced the U.S. to the round of 16. “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. It was cool.”
A record-setting 13-0 rout of Thailand that opened the tournament for the Americans sparked a debate back home. Celebration had not been discussed this much since Kool & the Gang. Some cried poor sportsmanship. Others argued players shouldn’t be asked to let up on soccer’s biggest stage.
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All the harrumphing was heard across the Atlantic.
“I guess we could have just passed it around the back for a million times, but that’s boring. That’s disrespectful to everyone: fans, ourselves” said 33-year-old Megan Rapinoe, the pink-haired veteran famous for running to a corner flag and screaming “Born in the USA” into a television microphone after goal against Colombia in the 2011 World Cup.
“The only thing you ask of an athlete really is to put it all out there and do the best you can. It’s not in our DNA ever.”
Coach Jill Ellis speculated Lloyd’s inspiration was her spouse, professional golfer Brian Hollins.
“I’m guessing it was a shout-out to her husband,” Ellis said.
Horan said Emily Sonnett, a 25-year-old defender at her first World Cup, suggested responses. Trolling critics was the goal.
“We decided to do something different today,” Horan said with an impish smile. “Handshakes were part of it. Golf clap was part of it.”