Megan Rapinoe Returns to the U.S. National Team


(Image Credit: Getty Images via Mercury News)

Paige Everson, Writer

It has been quite a year for Megan Rapinoe. Her book came out, she hosted an HBO special, and she got engaged to her girlfriend: Sue Bird.

But one thing was noticeably missing from her life: soccer.

That’s changing now that Rapinoe has returned to the U.S. national team for its January training camp in Florida after sitting out most of last year.

Though she hasn’t played in a soccer game since March, Megan Rapinoe’s acute power is plenty big enough for her to make an impact from the sideline. Just in case anyone forgot how big the impact could be when she’s with the U.S. national team, she gave a classic reminder on Tuesday, Jan 12.

Rapinoe is back with the program now as it prepares for a pair of friendlies against Colombia later this month. 

When the coronavirus began to take hold in the United States last March, and the National Women’s Soccer League called off its season, Rapinoe hunkered down at home. 

She opted out of the NWSL’s Challenge Cup tournament in a bubble in Utah last summer and the league’s fall series. She also opted out of the national team’s October camp. 

She said part of her reasoning for the break was fear of COVID-19, but she was also exhausted from the whirlwind that came after the U.S. victory in the World Cup in France. Rapinoe earned FIFA Best Player and Ballon d’Or honors following her play in soccer’s premier tournament.

At her return to the game, Rapinoe got bombarded with questions from reporters. But none of the questions she took were about the games, set for Jan 18 and 22.

The questions were about last week’s insurrectionist riot in the U.S. Capitol and her social justice work.

Throughout her career, Rapinoe has been a vocal advocate for equal pay and other social justice issues, including LGBTQ rights. She sparred with President Donald Trump via Twitter during the World Cup and last year was involved in get-out-the-vote initiatives in support of President-elect Joe Biden.

But her passion for social justice predates Trump’s election in November 2016. She first took a knee during the playing of the national anthem two months before then, and her activism overall has gone on for far longer.

Her response to the riot in the Capital, however, was much more open.

She admitted that it was “very unsettling and scary” to watch “a murderous mob” break through the Capitol’s walls; and the multiple deaths that followed. She praised “the courage” of lawmakers who returned to the business of certifying Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory within hours of the building being secured.

But there was no praise for the lawmakers who voted against certification or those that spurred on the rioters.

“Hopefully the lawmakers will have the courage to do what needs to be done. And everyday citizens as well, we’ll understand that we have a part to play in it, just as everybody else does,” Rapinoe stated.