Retiring Megan Rapinoe makes tearful exit as USA bow out
Megan Rapinoe was not satisfied with the ending.
Such was her dismay that she called it “dark comedy” and a “sick joke”.
When she left the global stage for the last time after 17 years of representing the Stars and Stripes, she was in tears.
After a goalless draw in Melbourne’s last-16, Rapinoe’s 202nd match for the USA ended in a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout loss to Sweden.
Rapinoe, 38, is one of the most successful players of her generation. She announced she would retire after this season.
Despite leading 3-2 on penalties, substitute Rapinoe missed her spot-kick as Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara also missed theirs.
It was an emotional experience for Rapinoe when Lina Hurtig scored the decisive penalty and eliminated the four-time world champions.
Her shirt was lifted up to conceal her face as the Olympian gold medal winner tried to conceal her appearance.
Ten minutes after the game, television cameras captured Rapinoe being consoled by teammate Lynn Williams after she was denied the chance to end her USA career on a high note.
The situation seems like a sick joke to Rapinoe. I missed a penalty. This is dark comedy to me.”
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Rapinoe leaves the NFL as a true icon of American football, despite the result.
A prominent player in US women’s national team history, she made her international debut in July 2006 in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in San Diego.
As a FIFA World Cup veteran, she has participated in the 2011, 2015, and 2019 editions. Having scored in the 2019 final, Rapinoe helped the USA claim back-to-back world titles in women’s soccer.
While Rapinoe waved to USA fans one last time before disappearing down the tunnel, that night in Lyon four years ago seems like a lifetime ago.
‘I’ve tried to make the world a better place’
During this World Cup, Rapinoe played 77 minutes as a substitute and did not start any games.
14 of the 23 players in manager Vlatko Andonovski’s squad in Australia and New Zealand are competing at their first World Cup.
Aside from Rapinoe, 34-year-old forward Alex Morgan, and 35-year-old defender O’Hara, each was making his fourth World Cup appearance.
In this edition, Rapinoe was responsible for encouraging, guiding and helping some of the younger players.
In spite of her inactivity on the pitch, Rapinoe was interviewed by the United States almost every day at this tournament.
As Rapinoe addressed the world’s media in the refurbished 1920s building near Auckland’s waterfront, there was standing room only.
As far as I’m concerned, I have always gone about things the right way.
I have always used whatever platform we have to grow the game, make the world a better place, and advocate for more using our voices.
“I know I will leave the game having gotten all the enjoyment out of it I could and celebrating, fighting, and just laying it all on the line.”