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Laura Harvey: Megan Rapinoe could take over World Cup for USWNT

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF).

Megan Rapinoe is no longer a starter for the U.S. women’s national team, but don’t count her out as a game-changing star, OL Reign coach Laura Harvey said.

With OL Reign, Harvey has had a front-row seat for Rapinoe’s greatness, in her first stint as coach from 2013-17 and again since returning to the club in 2021. She called the 38-year-old forward “one of the most talented players I’ve ever coached.”

Rapinoe entered the World Cup recovering from a calf injury. While USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski called her “ready to play” ahead of the opening match against Vietnam, she remained in “the buildup stage” with limited minutes. She ended up entering as a substitute in the 61st minute of the 3-0 win.

USWNT fans should expect more of the same as the tournament continues, not necessarily because of Rapinoe’s injury but because of her role on the team. Both Andonovski and Rapinoe have spoken about the change, with Andonovski praising her leadership and Rapinoe referring to herself as the “fun aunt, fun grandma.”

Still, even as a substitute, Harvey would not be surprised to see Rapinoe take over the World Cup — just in a different way, as she explained on “The Re-Cap Show” with Tobin Heath and Christen Press.

“In the biggest moment, when it really matters, you truly believe she is going to turn up,” Harvey said So it just wouldn’t shock me if she sets this thing alight.

“She might set it alight by playing 30 minutes every game, coming on and scoring the penalty that matters. Or taking the corner that matters. Or whipping three crosses in that matter. She just has an ability of doing the craziest things in the craziest moments in the only way that she can.”