The stage was set for Megan Rapinoe to have another iconic World Cup moment for the United States women’s national team. With the U.S. up 3-2 in its penalty shootout with Sweden in the round of 16, Rapinoe stepped up to the penalty spot with an opportunity to put her team in a great position, and she had all the confidence that it was going to happen.
“I’m going to score,” Rapinoe said of her mindset when asked by The Atlantic.
But she didn’t. Rapinoe’s shot went over the crossbar and into the stands behind the goal. And all she could do in the moment was laugh — not because it was funny, but because it was a scenario she had imagined before.
“Honestly, something that has made me so successful in penalty kicks for so long is the acceptance and the realization that I will miss them,” Rapinoe said. “I miss them in training regularly. I’ve been lucky not to miss a lot in actual competition, but eventually, that can happen. But I love taking them. I would take them all the time. I would take that one again. I would pick me to take them.
“For a long time, I have thought about missing one in a really big moment. What are you going to do? The only other thing you could do is to not take one. I’m not going to do that. I would rather step up and be in that moment.”
Rapinoe might have another chance to take a big penalty at the club level with OL Reign, but her days of taking game-deciding penalties at the international level are over, as the 38-year-old announced in June that she will retire from soccer at the end of the NWSL season.
Rapinoe ended her World Cup career with nine goals, three gold medals and a silver medal. At the 2019 World Cup, she won the Golden Boot after scoring six goals.
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