Megan Rapinoe

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Rapinoe hopes for ‘total (expletive) circus’ around USWNT-France quarterfinal

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Megan Rapinoe is amping up the occasion, even if it really doesn’t need it.

And we love it.

The United States women’s national team, reigning World Cup champions, will meet hosts France on Friday in Paris for what will be one of the most anticipated quarterfinals in some time.

The possibility that the two group winners would meet at this point was circled on theoretical calendars since the draw, and Rapinoe is just as jazzed as the rest of us.

[ MORE: USWNT beats Spain ]

Immediately after the game, Rapinoe admitted that the second half of the USWNT’s 2-1 defeat of Spain had the team looking at each other for another level.

And she also loved the heart and soul involved in the win.

“That’s World Cup-level grit right there,” she said (video below). “You can’t replicate it. There’s no way to express it or teach it. There were a few of us on the field in the second half saying, ‘Up a level.’ They only get harder and more intense from here. Everyone’s playing for their lives.

Rapinoe kicks FIFA, says women’s soccer not treated equally

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. star Megan Rapinoe gave FIFA some kicks two weeks ahead of the World Cup, maintaining the sport’s top executives are not doing enough to close a huge gender disparity in investment.

“They have essentially unlimited resources. I don’t think that it’s really been a huge change at all,” the 33-year-old Californian said Friday, two days ahead of the Americans’ send-off match against Mexico. “Sort of the incremental change that we’ve seen is just not enough.”

A champion at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2015 World Cup, the Seattle Reign midfielder has been the most outspoken American player.

FIFA doubled prize money for the women to $30 million this year from the amount four years ago and the amount for the winning team to $4 million. That remains a fraction of the money at last year’s men’s World Cup, where France received $38 million from a $400 million pool. FIFA has raised the men’s pool to $440 million for 2022.

“I would like to see a major paradigm shift and sort of a major overhaul,” Rapinoe said. “There’s been such a lack of investment for all of these years and such a lack of care and attention that doubling or tripling or quadrupling investment, care, attention to the women’s game I think would be appropriate.”

Rapinoe also criticized FIFA for allowing three major finals to take place on the same day, splitting focus that could otherwise be solely on the women. The women’s final in Lyon, France, will kick off at 11 a.m. EDT and be followed by the Copa America championship match in Rio de Janeiro at 4 p.m. EDT and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in Chicago at 9 p.m. EDT.

“It’s ridiculous and disappointing, to be honest,” Rapinoe said.

FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura, the sport’s highest-ranking woman executive, and the FIFA media office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Players on the U.S. team have sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, charging institutionalized gender discrimination. The USSF countered that pay and benefits for members of the men’s and women’s teams, bargained by separate unions, can’t be compared and said there was no basis for allegations of illegal conduct.

“It’s not this divide. It’s very much a cohesive unit,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “It doesn’t enter the locker room. It doesn’t enter the meeting space. We’re working together and making this work and, yeah, I understand. I’m a woman. I have a young daughter. I understand a lot of the bigger social issues out there in terms of that. But I also know right now the job is to get the team focused and they are focused.”

Preparing for her third World Cup, Rapinoe is among three American co-captains, joined by two-time FIFA player of the year Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. With short, spikey dyed blond hair, Rapinoe is the most recognizable U.S. women’s player.

Before the 2012 Olympics, she came out as gay . She knelt during the national anthem three years ago in support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and this year became the first openly gay woman to appear in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue .

Rapinoe is not surprised at attacks on LGBTQ rights and abortion rights.

“Equality for all requires people who have more of it right now to give up some which I think, obviously, is a good thing for everyone,” she said. “But some people don’t want to give that up, so they’re doing everything they can to keep all of it to themselves. I don’t think it’s surprising. I think those people are probably going to do everything they can to keep all the power that they have for as long as they possibly can.”

She maintains inequality for women in sports goes beyond soccer.

“I think it’s pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing and all of that that men’s sports has,” she said. “So I don’t think anyone’s really arguing about that anymore.”

Rapinoe, Heath lead USWNT back to draw England (video)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tobin Heath scored off her own rebound in the 67th minute, and the United States tied England 2-2 on Saturday in the SheBelieves Cup for the Americans’ second draw in two games in the tournament.

Megan Rapinoe, who also scored the 43rd goal of her career in the 33rd minute, started the tying goal with a corner kick. Alex Morgan passed the ball to Heath whose first kick was stopped by defender Rachel Daly, and Heath scored off the rebound for her 26th career goal.

The Americans nearly pulled out a victory. Julie Ertz’s header went off the bar at the end of the 77th minute, and they had a flurry of passes deep in the 90th minute without a shot on net.

Steph Houghton tied it up on a free kick in the 36th minute, and Nikita Parris gave England a 2-1 lead.

The U.S. now is 10-4-2 all-time against England, though the teams avoided the 1-0 score of their last four meetings. The Americans had won three of those, and Saturday they wore the names of women who have inspired them on the back of their shirts.

Japan beat Brazil 3-1 in the opening match of Saturday’s doubleheader in the second part of this round-robin tournament featuring four of the world’s top 10 teams. This tuneup for the Women’s World Cup, which starts June 7 in France, concludes Tuesday night in Tampa, Florida, where the United States will play Brazil, while England plays Japan.

The Americans are 3-0-1 at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, this time before a crowd of 22,125 on a cloudy, chilly day.

Kelley O’Hara passed the ball into the box where Daly tried to clear with a header. Rapinoe corralled the ball, then boomed a volley over the head of keeper Karen Bardsley for a 1-0 lead.

Houghton tied it up on a free kick , curling the ball past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Adrianna Franch in her first cap for the Americans.

Alex Morgan came up just shy of her 100th goal late in the first half.

Fran Kirby found Parris with a pass, then she dribbled once before beating Franch in the 52nd minute to give England the lead, putting the pressure on the Americans who won their first three visits to this stadium.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis started substituting soon after, sending in Christen Press for Mallory Pugh, and defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who sat out the Americans’ 2-2 tie against Japan in the opener of this tournament with an injury, replaced Rose Lavelle in the 61st minute. Ellis said Friday that Sauerbrunn was “highly unlikely” to play in Nashville.

SheBelieves Cup: Gorgeous goals dot opening matches; USWNT draws (video)

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The United States women’s national team began its search for a third SheBelieves Cup title in four tries with a draw versus tournament debutantes Japan.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-0 Watford ]

The other match saw England rebound from an early Brazil penalty to set up a pivotal second match with the USWNT.

USWNT 2-2 Japan

Yuka Momiki’s stoppage time marker was the second time the USWNT conceded a lead on Wednesday in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Alex Morgan scored a late goal after Emi Nakajima tied the match after halftime.

Morgan used her chest to redirect a Christen Press cross home with a 76th minute marker.

Unfortunately for the USWNT, a deft bit of Japanese footwork turned their back line and goalkeeper into a puddle on Momiki’s stoppage time equalizer.

But the first goal…

Tobin Heath got the ball on the right wing and dribbled Saori Ariyoshi into a face plant, cueing up Megan Rapinoe for her 42nd international goal and giving Japan a welcome in its first ever SheBelieves Cup match.

England 2-1 Brazil

If you’re going to score a late winner for your country, might as well make it a worldie.

Arsenal forward Beth Mead hit this vicious strike to complete England’s comeback from a halftime deficit and send Brazil into the loss column.

England faces the USWNT next, while Brazil will meet Japan.

U.S. Soccer announces Player of the Year nominees

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The USMNT’s 2018 Player of the Year is going to be one of the new breed, while the USWNT’s list of nominees is a bit unusual as well.

Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp are the men vying to become the fifth different name to win the Male Player of the Year in as many seasons.

[ USMNT: Player ratings | 3 things ]

There are three players on the Female list to have won the award in previous years with Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath, and Alex Morgan having laid claim to the honor. Megan Rapinoe and Lindsey Horan are the other two nominees.

The two teams could hardly have had more different years, as the USWNT was undefeated behind a prolific season from Morgan.

The men stalled as U.S. Soccer failed to enlist a full-time coach, leaving interim coach Dave Sarachan to meld new players into a “part-time” system.

Steffen is probably the favorite to win the men’s award, though Miazga and McKennie had some high-profile moments in red, white, and blue. Trapp is beloved by the staff and could grab the award as well, while Adams seems a true long shot.