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VIDEO: Megan Rapinoe responds after NWSL national anthem debacle

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Megan Rapinoe made a statement last week as she knelt for the U.S. national anthem during a NWSL game in protest.

She said it was a “nod to Colin Kapernick” after the San Francisco 49ers star quarterback had chosen to not stand for the anthem in preseason games as he protested racial injustice and police brutality in the USA.

Rapinoe previously stated that “being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.”

[ MORE: USMNT youngsters shine

On Wednesday night U.S. women’s national team star Rapinoe, 31, was back in action as her Seattle Reign FC side played against the Washington Spirit in a NWSL encounter.

Everyone was focusing on Rapinoe and what she would do during the national anthem, expect, the Spirit decided to play the anthem while the players were still in the locker rooms.

That decision from their owner has angered many and Rapinoe has spoken openly about what happened on Wednesday as the controversy over her initial protest rumbles on.

Click play on the video above (warning, there is some strong language resent) to hear Rapinoe talking to reporters directly after the game. She starts up by saying the decision was “******* unbelievable.”

Hard to disagree with that assessment.

USWNT star Rapinoe joins Kaepernick’s national anthem protest

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U.S. women’s national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe has followed in the footsteps of NFL Star Colin Kaepernick.

Rapinoe, 31, went down on one knee during the U.S. national anthem being played at Seattle Reign’s game against the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL on Sunday evening.

The USWNT veteran had since explained her decision to not stand for the national anthem was fueled by the ongoing actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick as he has refused to stand for the anthem throughout preseason in a protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the USA. Kaepernick has been widely criticized for his decision to not stand for the anthem.

Rapinoe — who won 2012 Olympic gold with the U.S. and the 2015 World Cup —  later revealed her action was “a nod to Kaepernick” and she also urged others via her Twitter account to “keep the conversation going.”

Speaking to American Soccer Now, this is what Rapinoe had to say about her actions and why she felt the need to kneel for the Star-Spangled Banner.

“It was very intentional,” Rapinoe said. “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

European commitments see USWNT name 25-woman squad for friendlies

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Oct. 20 isn’t a reserved date on FIFA’s women’s calendar, and with an increasing number of U.S. players taking advantage of opportunities in Europe, that poses a problem for U.S. Soccer. Four of the current squad (named this afternoon) are playing for Swedish power Tyresö. Two more are in France. Another promising attacker is playing for Bayern Munich. It’s hard to get the band together when their clubs aren’t obligated to release them.

That may be why 25 women were named to Tom Sermanni’s squad for upcoming friendlies against Australia (Oct. 20) and New Zealand (Oct. 27, Oct. 30), though only 18 women will dress for each match. For the Australia game, the squad will be without Tyresö’s players (Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Christen Press), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), and Megan Rapinoe (Lyon). Erika Tymrak, with Bayern Munich after earning the NWSL’s Rookie of the Year award, was not named to the squad.

Sermanni’s team will undergo a second shift after the Australia match. College stars Crystal Dunn (North Carolina) and Morgan Brian (Virginia), who will miss their team’s Oct. 20 ACC matchup to be in Texas, will return to their schools after the Australia match. Likewise NWSL fullbacks Leigh Ann Robinson (FC Kansas City) and Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC) will leave the team before the New Zealand games.

For Cox, the callup is her first since returning to the field late in the NWSL season, the 27-year-old sidelined for most of the season as she welcomed her first child. With 82 caps to her credit, the 2008 gold medalist was once a national team mainstay, though he last appearance with the U.S. was in May 2012. Now she’ll compete against Dunn and converted midfielder Kristie Mewis for a place on the depth chart.

source:
Stephanie Cox, pictured here with the LA Sol, returned to action late in the NWSL season after delivering her first child. Though 27-year-old defender has 82 caps with the U.S. national team, she’s been called in for the first time since May 2012. (Source: JMR Photography, via Wiki Commons.)

They’re part of the 10-defender crew named to the U.S. squad, one that’s emblematic of the strange tension between old world scheduling and the new realities of the women’s soccer world. Whereas the U.S. has previously been able to ignore FIFA dates because few (if any) players were playing in Europe, financial opportunities in France, Sweden, England and Germany makes it more likely out-of-window games will create conflicts. In one sense, the U.S. surely has enough depth to give players 22 through 25 a shot in otherwise meaningless matches, but on the other hand, the margin for borderline players like Tymrak, Paris Saint-Germain’s Lindsey Horan, and Bayern’s Amber Brooks diminishes with decreased opportunities. There’ll be deprived of opportunities granted domestic-based players.

With two games scheduled in the October FIFA window, it’s hardly a major concern. It’s unlikely the borderline Europeans were omitted because they wouldn’t be released for the Oct. 20 friendly. After all, the Tyresö and French contingents were still named to the squad despite being unavailable for Australia.

Still, the scheduling is an example of a unique, unprecedented predicament for U.S. Soccer. Their women’s players are becoming subjected to the same pressures as their men’s. National team priorities must be balanced with their professional ambition. While that doesn’t preclude scheduling games outside a FIFA window, it remains to be seen how the practice persists.

Heath, Rapinoe, Press, and Krieger — all key players for Sermanni are already out for Australia. A few more key players go to Europe, and these out-of-window camps will no longer be worth it.

Here’s the full squad:

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Adrianna Franch (WNY Flash), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (10): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Tyresö), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö), Ali Krieger (Tyresö), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Leigh Ann Robinson (FC Kansas City), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg), Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Lyon)
FORWARDS (4): Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)