A week of headlines for Megan Rapinoe fuels Women’s World Cup history against France

A history of the USWNT in the World Cup

The USWNT has the most World Cup titles in women's history. If they win this year, they'll be the first women's team to win back-to-back World Cups.
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The USWNT has the most World Cup titles in women's history. If they win this year, they'll be the first women's team to win back-to-back World Cups.

After garnering headlines for protesting the national anthem at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and subsequent refusal to go to the “[expletive] White House” if her team won the title in France, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe became a talking point heading into the quarterfinal clash with the tournament hosts.

Rapinoe responded.

She scored both goals as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated France 2-1 in a quarterfinal played at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Friday.

Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump was asked about Rapinoe’s silent protesting of the national anthem at the Women’s World Cup.

Trump said he didn’t approve of her actions.

Rapinoe’s protesting started in 2016, when she took a knee in solidarity with the movement former NFL cornerback Colin Kaepernick started.

Following U.S. Soccer’s rule change forcing players representing the national team to stand for the anthem, Rapinoe underwent a silent protest where she does not sing the anthem or place her hand over her heart.

Following Trump’s response to Rapinoe’s protesting, soccer magazine Eight by Eight posted a video interview on Twitter taken with Rapinoe prior to the World Cup starting.

In the video, she was asked about going to the White House if the U.S won, which led to her statement she wasn’t going.

In the pre-match press conference Thursday, Rapinoe stood by her comments sans the expletive.

On Friday in Paris, Rapinoe and the U.S. got off the fast start. She whipped in a free kick through traffic in the fifth minute that French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi didn’t see.

Later, she arrived on a late run from the left wing to slot Tobin Heath’s cross into the net.

Both plays were set up by star striker Alex Morgan. The first was when Rapinoe fed Morgan into space and she drew a foul outside the penalty box from the left wing.

The second was a pass from Morgan into space with Heath timing her run to get onside. Heath then drilled a cross behind Sam Mewis, who drew a French defender, as it skipped to Rapinoe.

Wendie Renard pulled one back for the tournament hosts in the 81st minute off a set piece. She headed in a cross from a free kick.

Following Rapinoe’s second goal, the French had most of the ball and the U.S. utilized a 5-4-1 formation to withstand the pressure and force France to break down their organized defense.

They couldn’t bag the second goal, and the U.S. heads back to the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup for the eighth straight time.

The fifth minute goal by Rapinoe was the fifth straight match that Team USA has scored inside 12 minutes at this World Cup.

Rapinoe, who has five goals, scored two goals in two straight knockout games for the first time in Women’s World Cup history.

Rapinoe is now tied with teammate Alex Morgan, Australia’s Sam Kerr and England’s Ellen White for the golden boot race, the award given to the tournament’s top scorer.

Australia was already eliminated, while England is the opponent for the U.S. in the semifinals scheduled for Tuesday.

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Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.