- Le Grand Match lived up to all expectations
- Megan Rapinoe was its brightest star with a brace
- Jill Ellis praises Rapinoe as the queen of big moments
By Erin Fish with USA
Most players would hate playing in front of a hostile crowd, with thousands of fans screaming and booing at them, but Megan Rapinoe is not like most players. She thrives on the attention of a big stage, positive or negative, and she feeds off it.
After getting both USA goals in a 2-1 win over Spain in the Round of 16, Rapinoe monopolised headlines with her post-match remarks on a tantalising FIFA Women’s World Cup™ quarter-final with hosts France.
“Hopefully a complete spectacle,” Rapinoe said. “Just an absolute media circus. I hope it’s huge and crazy. That’s what it should be. This is the best game, this is what everybody wanted.”
Rapinoe’s wish came true, with hundreds of media members showing up to cover the match and a sold-out crowd filling the Parc des Prices in Paris, and she put in another standout performance.
Her first goal came just five minutes in. Alex Morgan was fouled just outside the box, and Rapinoe drilled the resulting free-kick home to give the USWNT an early lead and confidence against a talented France.
While the first goal was impressive, her second was the most crucial. The momentum seemed to have shifted in France’s favour, with the hosts looking like they could equalise at any moment, when Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath combined to set up Rapinoe, who made it 2-0.
The 33-year-old now has five goals in four appearances at France 2019, and back-to-back Player of the Match Presented by Visa awards.
“She’s just a big personality, both on and off the pitch,” coach Jill Ellis said of Rapinoe. “And I think she honestly thrives in these moments.”
Ellis went on to discuss the Germany 2011 goal where Rapinoe delivered a perfect cross for Abby Wambach, who headed a 122nd-minute equaliser to send USA’s quarter-final with Brazil to penalties, which USA won.
“Even when we had young players come in, I always said ask Megan about big moments because there’s a never-say-die attitude. She just loves and lives for those moments.”
Thankfully for the USA and Rapinoe, there’s an even bigger moment on Tuesday: a semi-final against England in Lyon.