Megan Rapinoe had a chance to make one more indelible mark on the U.S. women’s national team during the Women’s World Cup in the Round of 16 against Sweden – a penalty kick for the ages that would have helped the Americans to the quarterfinals.
Rapinoe stepped up to the marker and launched the ball high. Sweden came back and defeated the U.S. in the matchup.
With the miss and the eventual U.S. elimination, Rapinoe and the squad faced a ton of criticism – from fans of the team to those who have turned analysts like Carli Lloyd and Alexi Lalas and even former President Donald Trump. The criticism was brought up in a recent interview with The Atlantic.
"It always is, because what he’s saying is fake. It’s a compilation of hit words and hot-button words that don’t actually make any sort of sense or square with reality at all… I think, just in general, the way that our team was spoken about over the course of the tournament, it was fake," Rapinoe said in the interview.
"And it didn’t make sense to me: In 2019, we were ultra-confident, ultra-swaggy – and won everything. And even though we won, we did it in bad taste, according to our critics. This time, we weren’t confident enough, and we don’t have the right "mentality." And so we lost. It’s just so disingenuous. There’s no way for us to win, and there’s no way for us to lose."
Rapinoe accused critics of waiting for the team to "stumble" and took a shot at the so-called "right wing."
"They want women to believe that you can’t fight for things and be excellent; you can’t ask for what you deserve and be successful," Rapinoe added.
The Round of 16 was the earliest exit for the U.S. women’s national team. The squad entered the Women’s World Cup with two consecutive championships.