all scores

‘From 18 to Pinoe’: USWNT relies on Megan Rapinoe’s veteran leadership

(Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Megan Rapinoe enters the 2023 World Cup as the elder stateswoman on the U.S. women’s national team. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski plans to put the 37-year-old forward’s experience to work for the USWNT, on and off the pitch.

With the ages on the squad ranging from “18 to Pinoe,” as Alex Morgan put it, Rapinoe’s World Cup résumé makes her an invaluable resource. Rapinoe is one of three players (along with Morgan and Kelley O’Hara) set to appear in her fourth World Cup for the USWNT, and she is the oldest player on the squad by more than two years.

Already a USWNT legend, she factored in heavily in the last two World Cups, scoring her 50th international goal in the team’s championship match in 2019. With the goal, the 34-year-old Rapinoe became the oldest woman to score in a World Cup final. She also earned the Golden Boot as the top scorer of the tournament with six goals.

Four years later, Rapinoe is gearing up for another World Cup run as she looks to help the USWNT to its third consecutive title. But the team has changed, and so has her place within it.

“She will probably have a different role than her last two World Cups,” Andonovski said. “She is certainly going to have different types of minutes.

For the last 12 months, Rapinoe has served mainly as a substitute for the USWNT. She is rehabbing a calf injury she picked up in NWSL play, and while she is “progressing well” per Andonovski, expect her to maintain a similar role when the team heads to Australia and New Zealand. Still, the coach sees her as a leader on the field and in the locker room.

“Her role from a leadership standpoint is so important, but also when she is on the field she is so valuable for us,” he said.

With her 38th birthday coming up on July 5, she’s ready to embrace her role as the “fun grandma” for the USWNT, as she said on Snacks in April.

“I’m still fun. I’m still a fun aunt, fun grandma,” she said. “But yeah, it’s like we want to run it back. We wanna win. We wanna win everything, all the time. Win every game. World Cups are just so cool. Like this one’s going to be so much better than the last one which was so much better than the last one.

“It’s in a really cool place, so I think that’s exciting for everyone. The team is looking great. These little kids are just good. Everyone’s just good.”