The players have heard and seen some of the criticism stemming from the 13-0 rout Tuesday in Reims. Immediately afterward, they answered questions about the goalfest and celebrations.
For the most part, however, they have blocked out the noise of social media, some having disconnected or reduced their online diet well before the tournament began last week.
“It can be really consuming if you are caught up in it,” midfielder Samantha Mewis, 26, said Thursday. “A lot of us have spent less time on social media or looking at media in general. At times, there are so many positive things and you want to interact with people. I get a lot of messages from friends, but [the team is] just staying focused on our goal here, and everything else is not super important.”
The Americans drew the wrath of many fans and commentators around the globe not so much for the amount of scoring — goal differential is the first tiebreaker in group play — but for the exuberance that some players expressed when the match got out of hand in the second half. Megan Rapinoe’s twirl and slide after the ninth goal galled some observers.
Mewis and midfielder Rose Lavelle, who each scored two goals in their World Cup debuts, were the only players designated for interviews Thursday. (Wednesday was for recovery and travel, and no one was made available to comment.)
In an appearance Thursday afternoon with teammate Alex Morgan on Fox’s World Cup television broadcast, Rapinoe said her goal celebration against Thailand was a playful tribute to American goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. She added of her team, “I feel like we were pent up, and that sort of explosion of joy was very genuine.”
Team officials say the players have shrugged off the controversy and, with a core of experienced players, have moved on to preparations for Chile here Sunday at Parc des Princes.
Asked specifically about the backlash to the Thailand match, Mewis said: “I don’t think we are really super-involved in watching and reading a lot of media about ourselves, to be honest. But we had heard there were some things going on and we are really just trying to focus on the next game. We respect Thailand a lot and we’re just looking to the next game now.”
The Chileans, who at No. 39 in the FIFA world rankings are five slots behind Thailand, made their World Cup debut Tuesday by staying even most of the game with heavily favored Sweden before losing, 2-0.
The U.S. players arrived here Wednesday by bus after a 90-minute journey from Reims. They did not practice Thursday. With five days between matches, there is ample free time. Aside from training sessions, meetings and team meals, the players are on their own at the team hotel a bit west of the city center.
Some were planning Thursday to explore Paris, their first extended visit to the City of Light after conducting pre-Cup camp in London and then traveling to Reims.
To avoid distractions, many players have reduced online interaction.
“It’s easy to stay off our phones,” midfielder-defender Julie Ertz said last week. “This is a time for us. We’ve been preparing since 2015 [when the United States won its third World Cup trophy]. We know what we need to focus on. Anything that you feel like doesn’t keep you focused, we just try to eliminate it.”
Lavelle, 24, said since last year she has typically shut down social media accounts when she arrives at U.S. training camps.
“I knew if I didn’t try to wean off it, it could be something that negatively affected me during this tournament,” the Washington Spirit midfielder said. “That was a work in progress, and I am really happy I did that because I can stay focused and be more present with the team.”
It’s not a complete blackout, by any means.
Forward Carli Lloyd on Thursday interacted on Twitter with the Thai goalkeeper, who had thanked the U.S. star for consoling and encouraging her after the lopsided match.
But some players last weekend seemed initially unaware of former goalkeeper Hope Solo’s critical comments about Coach Jill Ellis.
“The biggest thing is just being able to come together as a group, and the best way is to kind of create that bubble and eliminate all the outside noise,” goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher said last week. “We don’t need any outside things. We have high standards. We want to win. The more we can bond, you’ll be able see that on the field. You can see the teams that are cohesive and the ones that aren’t.”