Megan Rapinoe Scores Twice, Carries the USWNT to the Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals

If you felt the ground shake around 1:30 EST this afternoon, it’s because the queer internet went berserk as Megan Rapinoe scored a second goal on a second penalty kick to give the USWNT a 2-1 lead in a surprisingly tough game against Spain in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The goal made Rapinoe only the second player in history to score two penalties in a World Cup match, and they were the only goals the team scored all day. (It was a busy day for her all around; she got a yellow card for, accidentally, I think, slapping another player in the face.)

The USWNT is under serious pressure at the World Cup this year after their shocking exit at the hands of Sweden in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the way they’ve taken their fight for equal pay very public, suing and then entering into mediation with the U.S. Soccer Federation. You’d think Megan Rapinoe would be feeling that pressure more than anyone, with the size of the target on her back — but she’s shown up to play with pink and purple hair, continued to refuse to sing the National Anthem (she says she doesn’t think she’ll ever sing it again), and even penned an essay in The Players’ Tribune talking about “You can’t get rid of your girl that easily.”

Rapinoe’s first penalty kick — the result of a foul caused by Tobin Heath’s ankle-breaking footwork — put the U.S. on the board in the seventh minute, but Spain answered almost immediately after a dramatically misplayed ball by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Rapinoe’s second penalty kick, and the only other goal of the game, didn’t come until 70 minutes later.

ADVERTISEMENT

It appeared Alex Morgan would take the second penalty kick, but during VAR review, Morgan told Rapinoe she wanted her to take it. After the game, Rapinoe said, “That’s World Cup level grit. There’s no way to replicate it. You there’s no way to express it or teach it. Out on the field, in the second half, a few of looked around and said, ‘We’ve got to take it up a level.’ And we did.”

The USWNT now advances to the quarterfinals to play France, in Paris, on Friday.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 904 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. Rapinoe played well, and so did Lavelle, and Dunn was an underappreciated player all over the pitch this game. But I am worried about their defense for the next game. Hopefully it’s a good test that wakes them up and gets them motivated for Friday!

    • Spain out-strategized them. Coach and players figured out an excellent game plan and executed it well. They took advantage of US defensive and goalkeeping weaknesses, neutralized Morgan, and put enough pressure on Heath and Rapinoe to shut down the forwards. Rapinoe could bring it up the left but Corredera had her shut down once she made it most of the time.

      That foul on Lavelle was so soft, and it’s pretty ludicrous it was called for a PK. This game and the Japan-Netherlands game were ironic given that Spain and Japan benefited from bad calls/lack of calls in group stage. Spain got 2 pks in the South Africa game when the refs were still VAR happy and Japan didn’t get a pk against them during the game with Scotland after a clear handball in the box.

  2. The yellow card was a hella outsized response to that tiny accidental slap, but Rapinoe & Corredera’s on-field sportsmanship after it was pretty cute.

    Also though, can someone explain the Corredera / Rapinoe shirt exchange after the match?

    • I guess so they had souvenirs/marks of solidarity? Whatever the reason, it made me swoon–just like, two very fit women with Alternative Lifestyle Haircuts taking off their shirts, nbd, oops I am dead of gayness.

    • Exchanging jerseys is a soccer tradition – usually as a sign of respect between two players on opposing teams, and typically in momentous/important games. For Rapinoe/Corredera they battled it out against each other for the whole 90’ so it’s to show recognition for each other’s performance, and also just a great sign of sportsmanship.

    • This. What a performance against France, with a squad that lost so many defenders to injury before the tournament even started, with Marta and Christiane and Barbara and freaking Formiga playing full 90s in her 7th World Cup, age 41 at center mid.

      They far outperformed their expectations for this tournament, and viewing did significantly increase in Brazil, which is a good sign moving forward.

  3. I’m always happy when we either lose in the group stage or have a really close call early in the knockout stage because I feel like it gets our weak points worked out/sorted for when we really need to play our best.

    Or a life of WoSo has given me the ability to rationalize even the shitiest of shows.

  4. Once again, do not understand the coaching decisions (or, really, lack of) by Jill Ellis. I thought the US played mostly poorly, and we were lucky to get those PKs. Overall, hope we tighten up defensively against France and that Ellis starts Horan and subs out/in players sooner… Our team is so deep, we should be playing them, Press or Lloyd could have been more effective at the halftime mark then an 80 min sub. I would also love to see defenders play defense, over midfielders… We literally have a world-class RB in Ali Krieger, and yet..

    • Dude, this. The lack of subs was ludicrous, especially given that what we had was not working. Press scored the last game-winner against Spain; she’s got confidence on her side and the speed that Rapinoe was lacking to beat Corredera. I support sitting Horan on her yellow; Mewis needs to pass sooner/choose better final passes but she and Lavelle had the most success carrying the ball through Spain’s half. Morgan was invisible, so put in Lloyd, who at least will foul right back rather than going down every time she touches the ball. O’Hara was fine and Dunn had some solid moments, but also made me incredibly anxious – her positioning is sometimes suspect, she leaves players wide open, and that backpass to Naeher was so dangerous and such bad decision-making. I would’ve sat O’Hara for Krieger in the Spain match, given that she already had a yellow and Spain isn’t as speedy as France but at least O’Hara kept her head on her and didn’t make any ridiculous fouls or dangerous tackles.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.