- The United States Women’s National Team dominated the Netherlands in the World Cup final to win the tournament for the second straight time.
- Throughout the competition, Megan Rapinoe was a superstar for the Americans both on and off the field.
- After scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal in the final, Rapinoe put a perfect cap on an unbelievable run that will go down as one of the greatest in World Cup history.
- Follow all of our Women’s World Cup coverage here.
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If you didn’t know who Megan Rapinoe was before the start of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, chances are you’re now familiar.
The purple-haired superstar was a lightning rod both on and off the field for the Americans, leading the United States Women’s National Team through a dominant run to their second straight World Cup title.
Rapinoe and the Americans started with a splash, running off with a 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening match of the tournament, and immediately coming under scrutiny for what some argued were excessive celebrations in a blowout. Rapinoe brushed off the criticisms, telling reporters that their only crime was “an explosion of joy,” before continuing her dominant run through the group stage and advancing to the knockout round.
In the knockout round was when Rapinoe really rose to prominence, first confidently striking two penalty kicks against Spain to set up a marquee matchup against host-nation France in the quarterfinal.
Before that game got a chance to kick off, an old video of Rapinoe went viral, with the American captain saying “I’m not going to the f—— White House,” when asked of a potential visit should the team go on to win the tournament. President Trump responded predictably, tweeting that Rapinoe should “win before she talks,” and in the process, setting the stage for millions of his followers to express their own rage and hatred towards her.
Rapinoe responded on the field with another stunning performance,scoring both goals in the United States’ 2-1 win over France to put the team through to the semifinal. By the time the final whistle blew, fans were clamoring for her to be president.
Rapinoe’s run culminated in the final when she stepped to the spot to score on one last penalty kick that would prove to be the game-winning, World Cup-winning goal. When midfielder Rose Lavelle scored another just minutes later to secure the victory, all that was left to do was to lift the trophy.
With a big target on their back, an ongoing feud with the president, and an ongoing lawsuit with their own governing body in the quest for equal pay, Rapinoe and the rest of the American team stepped up under unbelievable pressure.
For Rapinoe, it was nothing new.
“I’m made for this,” said after the final,per Sports Illustrated. “I mean, I love it. Obviously, getting to play at the highest level in a World Cup with a team like we have is just ridiculous. But to be able to couple that with everything off the field and to back up all those words with performances and back up all those performances with words, it’s just incredible. I feel like this team is just in the midst of changing the world around us as we live, and it’s just an incredible feeling.”
Rapinoe’s impact goes far beyond her play on the field or a feud with Trump. She was one of the first white athletes to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, a protest against police violence towards African Americans. She’s advocated for the LBGTQ community, of which she is an out and proud member. She’s helped lead the charge for equal pay for the men’s and women’s teams with U.S. Soccer – a cause fans chanted in support of after the Americans won the trophy on Sunday.
— Lou (@loutalksfutbol) July 7, 2019
Rapinoe made no apologies throughout her dominant run through the Women’s World Cup this year, taking strong, affirmative stances in support of ideas and causes she believes in time and time again, staying true to herself no matter the consequence and using her time in the spotlight to further those causes.
After inviting all of the pressure that comes with such bold declarations of belief in 2019, Rapinoe backed it all up, winning every award imaginable – the golden boot, the golden ball – and leading the Americans to a second straight World Cup title that will not be forgotten.
To many who had been watching her throughout the tournament, the fact that she was a champion had been settled long ago.
Lifting the trophy on Sunday made it undeniable to everyone else.
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