Why Megan Rapinoe has played just 27 minutes of the Women's World Cup
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Megan Rapinoe, one of the game’s most recognisable stars, has barely featured in the Women’s World Cup. Here’s why.
The World Cup has only just begun, but the US, who are four-time Champions, could be on the cusp of elimination.
The US have never exited the tournament at the group stage but could face that fate in a do-or-die match against Portugal on Tuesday.
Should the US fail to claim at least a point against the World Cup debutantes they will be knocked out of the tournament, after beating Vietnam in their opener and drawing 1-1 with the Netherlands.
Vlatko Andonovski’s side, who are pursuing an unprecedented third consecutive title, have played much of the tournament with Rapinoe sat on the bench. The iconic 38-year-old forward is retiring this year and her role in the side has been less influential than in the past.
Rapinoe played a starring role in France four years ago, helping the US to the World Cup crown while claiming the Golden Ball and Golden Boot. This time around, the midfielder has played just 27 minutes.
There are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, Rapinoe has been battling injuries, having suffered a lower leg problem that kept her out of the US squad back in April, as well as a minor setback suffered in June.
Yet her new role also reflects the youth of the US squad, which boast 14 players taking part in their first World Cup and 11 with fewer than 30 international caps.
Indeed, the current crop’s most influential players are the younger generation.
However, Rapinoe insisted her role as a super-sub has been "rewarding"
"I think I could have helped," Rapinoe told reporters about the Netherlands match. "But I think Lynn [Williams] could have helped, and I think Trinity [Rodman] was helping and I think [Sophia Smith] was helping, and we had chances.
“It was right there for us. I don't think that it was like all the players on the field didn't do their job. I think that they were giving everything and still creating chances up 'till the very end and just wasn't able to get that last goal."
Rapinoe added she can still make an important contribution to the team.
She said via ESPN: "You can still play at an extremely high level. You can still keep a really high standard. You still have a lot to offer, both on the field and off the field.
"Maybe you're not going to be a starter playing 90 minutes or playing the bulk of the games. But you know, sometimes the veteran players, that's not what you need.
‘You need the 20 minutes in two games that wins the team the tournament, or wins the game and gets to the next round."