The World Cup journey is over for the United States. Now a new journey begins — Megan Rapinoe talks end of national team career

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Aug. 8, 2023

Happy Soccer Monday, and greetings from beautiful Melbourne.

Continue reading with a subscription to The IX

Get unlimited access to our exclusive coverage of a varitety of women’s sports, including our premium newsletter by subscribing today!

Join today

As you all know, the United States crashed out of the World Cup on penalties after a valiant, but ultimately inadequate, scoreless draw against Sweden.

It was coming all along. I said it in my story earlier today for The Associated Press, but here were the factors:

  1. Parity: The rest of the world has caught up to the United States. The team can no longer expect to win just because of history or the crest the players wear on their jerseys. Teams are getting bigger, faster and more tactical. Just ask Germany and Brazil.
  2. Injuries Hurt: No Becky Sauerbrunn. No Mallory Swanson. No Catarina Macario. I’d even add Sam Mewis to that group. Sauerbrunn gave the team heart, Swanson gave it ruthlessness.
  3. Inexperience: Fourteen newcomers on the squad, 12 who have never played in a major tournament. It showed.
  4. Lack of Identity: This team lacked both style and substance. Vlatko Andonovski was forced to juggle a lot of things with the injuries, but the team he put on the field had no cohesion. Love Savannah DeMelo in the National Women’s Soccer league, but I think it was an odd move to insert her into the starting lineup with only a limited number of minutes.

We now say goodbye to Megan Rapinoe, who said it was her final World Cup. Rapinoe was clearly not the player she once was, but that doesn’t diminish her accomplishments. Two World Cup titles and a gold medal is a pretty nice resume.

Surprisingly, it may be the end for Julie Ertz, too. She said at once point after the game it was the last time she’d wear a U.S. jersey. But there wasn’t a chance to clarify whether she was retiring from the national team full stop. The team does have some friendlies later this year. Also uncertain about what will happen with Angel City.

Vlatko Andonovski’s future is certainly in jeopardy.

Here is a statement put out by U.S. Soccer early Monday in Melbourne.

“While we are all disappointed our journey has ended at the Women’s World Cup, we want to thank the players, coaches and staff for their remarkable effort and to our fans both in the stands and at home for their unwavering support. As we always do after a major tournament, we will conduct a review to identify areas of improvement and determine our next steps. As we look ahead, we embrace the hard work necessary to become champions again.”

Not exactly throwing their support behind him.

Oh well, we should see. There may or may not be a news conference with U.S. Soccer’s higher ups, either Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned.

The Melbourne stadium is pretty!

Here’s the pressroom at Melbourne stadium. This it some sort of batting cage in real life:

Hey! There’s a restaurant here named after my cat!


Good story here from Kim McCauley for the Athletic about the Prayer Circle formation.

Also for The Athletic, Michael Cox writes that the U.S. lacks identity.

Jeff Kassouf previewed the Sweden match for the Guardian.

USA Today looked at the players with ties to U.S. Soccer in the Round of 16.

Here is the work of some of my esteemed fellow journalists here at the World Cup:

The game story from Henry Bushnell from Yahoo Sports. His story on Rapinoe’s World Cup exit.

Nancy Armour of USA Today wrote a wonderful column about Rapinoe.

Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal writes about the USWNT’s two-year slide that led to this moment.

Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times with his take.

Jeff Kassouf writes about how the US finally got it right, only for it to go wrong.

Caitlin Murray wrote about the game for ESPN, and the sick joke that ended Rapinoe’s World Cup career.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on Vlatko Andonovski’s response and future.

Steph Yang wrote about Rapinoe for The Athletic.

The Athletic’s Meg Linehan says the World Cup loss came by just millimeters. Now comes the fallout.

Steven Goff’s story for the Washington Post. Also for the Post, Candace Buckner writes the new face of women’s soccer is disbelief.

Finally, here’s what Rapinoe said after the match:

Rapinoe: Great performance tonight. Really proud of the group, thought we had great control of the game. We were able to take away a lot of what they were dangerous with, I think they only had maybe handful of corners and Alyssa was fantastic tonight. Just couldn’t find that quality in the final third. Had a few really good chances. Lynn’s chance was great. But yeah, that’s just the way it goes. Sometimes that’s a tough one for sure.

Question: What was going through your mind when you stepped up to take that pen.

Rapinoe: That I was going to score. Back of the net. Always.

Question: What about when you walked away?

Rapinoe: Sick joke. That’s why I had that smile on my face. Yeah, like you’re fucking kidding me? I’m gonna miss the penalty? I honestly can’t remember the last time I missed a penalty. I mean, not in a game for a very long time. I think Audrey Bledsoe was the last person to save a penalty in like 2018 in D.C. But yeah, I mean, that’s the way it goes. I mean, I’ve definitely thought about thought about that before. That’s always a possibility when you step up there, but I thought I was gonna make it, I thought everyone was gonna make it. And you always think Alyssa’s gonna save every single one of them. I thought she was great.

Question: What are the emotions like?

Rapinoe: Well, now that I’m in therapy, and I’m you know, 38, it’s like, this is life. You know? I wish we were moving on and I can guarantee a championship and do all that, but I feel like it doesn’t take away anything from this experience or my career in general. I feel so lucky and so grateful to play as long as I have, the successful teams that I have, to be a part of a very special generation of players who have done so much on and off the field. It would be hard to feel disappointed in any type of way. Obviously, the immediate disappointment of being out of the tournament, but I think just in general, Yeah, just I’m okay I’m you know, ready in a lot of ways to to be done. And I feel at peace with that. So it’s sad but I’m okay.

Question: I’m just wondering if you have any reflection on the young kids coming through?

Rapinoe: Yeah, man the kids are taking over. Which is such a good thing. Obviously, so many of them in our squad are so young, so talented. This was you know, I think whatever 13 or 14 players, first World Cup. So they’ll all be back and you know, better in just four short year. Yeah, it is sad. We’ve had some of the best players on and off the field, that the game has ever seen, Marta, Sinc, obviously Becky’s not here. You know, being able to be sort of like, in the atmosphere with all those players at the same time was really special and now it’s time for us to move on, in time for the new ones to cement themselves. We’re seeing that in this tournament, for sure. And you see that in our squad, we were kind of in a sort of transition period and you know, it’s a very exciting future for US soccer.

Question: Did the way it ended deprive you of a proper sendoff?

Rapinoe: No, I don’t think it’s totally deprived me. I’ve been sort of reflecting from time to time, even during the tournament, it’s hard not to. I’m trying to stay in the moment but things sort of crop up but, I mean, I feel pretty good about my World Cup resume. It has three finals, two championships, you know, four World Cups, to be able to play the song and still be impactful. I mean, obviously, you want to win everything all the time. And that’s the goal. But yeah, I mean, I feel really proud of it and really proud of this team and really proud of all the players that I’ve played with. I’ve just loved every bit of my career and I’ll just miss it to death. But it also feels like the right time and that’s okay. And there’s some dark humor in me missing a fucking pnealty at the end of this game. I feel like, I joke too often, always in the wrong places and inappropriately so maybe this is `Ha Ha’ at the end. I don’t know. It seems funny. Nobody’s going to laugh.

Want women’s hockey content? Subscribe to The Ice Garden!

Here at The IX, we’re collaborating with The Ice Garden to bring you Hockey Friday. And if you want the women’s hockey goodness 24/7? Well, you should subscribe to The Ice Garden now!

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson