Megan Rapinoe: The Star-Spangled Opinion Divider

Will she be remembered for her on-field actions or something else entirely?

Megan Rapinoe has been in the United States team for the best part of the last 20 years. 202 caps, 63 goals and two World Cups – she’s heading out a soccer legend.

Just an exceptional footballer…

Aside from all the campaigns, media appearances and exposure off the field – let’s remember what Megan Rapinoe is fundamentally. She’s a soccer player. A darn good one too. She won the Ballon d’Or in 2019, three NWSL titles and countless goals and assists throughout her career.

Rapinoe emerged as an attacking midfielder but has developed her game, as she can also be deployed out in wide positions. She has also often been referred to as a ‘crafty player’ as she runs at and usually past the opposition, where she can release the ball in a plethora of different ways. She did so with Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle on multiple occasions during the US domination days of world soccer.

While some might be quick to tarnish her club career to only America, she did spend some time in both Australia and France, but she did not play much football during those stints. Her longevity in both the NWSL and the USWNT should be enough to counter-balance her lack of international club experience.

One more time… against South Africa

It might not be quite the send-off that Rapinoe envisioned when she announced her retirement in July before the World Cup. No World Cup win, a questionable head coach at the time…Rapinoe thought she’d be retiring with more fanfare. That said, any Rapinoe retirement match is worth the price of admission.

She’s set to take to the field one last time against South Africa at Soldier Field in Chicago. The last time she played this opposition, the US won 3-0 in their final send-off match before the 2019 World Cup, which they went on to win. The teams are a lot closer together now having both exited the 2023 tournament in the Round of 16.

The activist

Everyone should get behind Rapinoe or anyone with a decent platform, trying to make the world a better place. Rapinoe has executed multiple processes and worked on campaigns for LGBT causes, signed up for charitable donations and vehemently fought for equal pay for women in soccer.

Why does she polarize the wider soccer world?

Rapinoe is a hero to some for her activist work and a legend when you add in how good she is at football. Different political stances could see people not like her as much, but it seems like only the most ardent traditionalist would have a problem with her trying to improve standards across the world. However, she has come under fire for being accused of being ‘Anti-American’ with her consistent rejection of the government and declining invites to go to the White House in the past. Given how patriotic American sports fans can be, there’s no surprise that some don’t like Rapinoe.

Rapinoe has her fair share of overseas critics too. Given she threw a lot of shade at England (a lot of it in her book) after the teams met in the 2019 World Cup, she was booed off the pitch at Wembley Stadium when the US lost 2-1 to England. The same fans also probably cheered when she missed her penalty during the shootout in the 2023 World Cup. What goes around, comes around?

As well as being labelled a big-mouth (for various reasons) she’s also been called out for being a self-obsessed narcissist. Whether it’s shouting ‘I fucking deserve this’ during an open-top bus parade or failing to interact with a young fan when he simply asked her to sign his soccer ball… she’s not got the best track record.

If you’re still eager to see her play one more time, then enjoy the game, and if you’d rather see the back of her well, that’s coming soon enough too. Soccer is set to lose one of its heroes and pantomime villains at the same time.