Any team taking on France in international sports is automatically down 0-1, because La Marseillaise is the best national anthem by a factor of five.
Any president taking on Megan Rapinoe is automatically down 0-1, because she is the best at what she does, and he is not.
Subject of a political spat earlier in the week initiated by President Trump, Reign FC star winger Rapinoe rose above the nonsense, the amped hometown crowd in Paris and a good French team.
She scored both goals in the USWNT’s 2-1 quarterfinal win Friday after scoring both goals in a previous win over Spain.
She now leads the FIFA Women’s World Cup in badassery.
Two more wins, starting with a semifinal match Tuesday against England in Lyon, and not only will the U.S. women be Cup champions for the fourth time, Rapinoe may become too big for the planet (at 33, she’s too young to run for the presidency).
Those who know Rapinoe would say none of this is surprising. It’s her third World Cup, and she has the swagger down. But now everyone who is suddenly now paying attention knows it too.
“Pinoe was on fire tonight,” teammate Alex Morgan told Fox Sports TV after the game. Rapinoe stunned the sellout crowd of 45,595 with a fifth-minute set-piece score, then created breathing room in the 65th minute with a run-of-play goal off a splendid feed from Morgan, the 49th international goal of Rapinoe’s career.
The resilient French tightened matters in the 80th minute with a free-kick header from Wendie Renard, at 6-1 the tournament’s tallest player. Then the anticipated drama, billed as the final before the final, was fully on, the pre-tourney dark-horse pick at home against the defending champs.
The U.S. defense held against withering pressure over the final tense 15 minutes (five minutes of stoppage) to preserve a fifth consecutive win in the tourney.
“This was so special, beating the host nation in the Parc des Princes,” Rapinoe said. “Can’t ask for anything more than this. You have to give it up for the French team — I think they out-played us with the ball. But we were so good defensively today. So strong. This is unreal.
“We talked about it before the tournament that we’re going to have those moments when everyone is going to have to play better than they ever have. (The defense) had their moments.”
Controversy boiled around Rapinoe during the week when a sixth-month-old video interview went viral because of her casually delivered response to the question of whether she would accept an invitation to a White House celebration, should the favored U.S. win the Cup.
“I’m not going to the f—— White House,” she said.
Apparently aware that Rapinoe, who complies with the soccer federation rule about standing for the anthem but refuses to sing or hold hand over heart, Trump found time among his various crises to tweet that she “should never disrespect our country, the White House or our flag . . . I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!’’
A steady critic of Trump, particularly his antipathy towards civil rights and the LGBTQ community, Rapinoe didn’t dodge her stance Wednesday at a previously scheduled news conference alongside U.S. coach Jill Ellis.
“I stand by the comments I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive. My mom will be very upset about that,” she said. “I don’t think that I would want to go, and I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform, or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn’t feel the same way and doesn’t fight for the same things that we fight for.”
Morgan and another teammate, Ali Krieger, publicly supported Rapinoe’s stand, but there will be no decision made until after tourney, although Trump invited the team “win or lose,” thereby debasing the honor.
Trump enjoys agitating the sports community because it expands the circle of attention he craves. Rapinoe is more than willing to engage the fight for social justice, proving it in 2016 when she became the first white U.S. athlete to support 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick by kneeling during the anthem.
With two more wins, USWNT and Rapinoe would have finished the job that Trump demanded. While I understand her position, I’d like to see her accept the invitation, in order to speak directly to the president.
He likes to double down. So does Rapinoe. Grab your popcorn.