Rapinoe is internationally known for her crafty style of play and activism. Her precise cross to Abby Wambach in the 122nd minute of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil resulted in an equalizer goal and eventual win for the Americans after a penalty shootout. The last-minute goal was awarded ESPN's 2011 ESPY Award for Best Play of the Year. During the 2012 London Olympics, she scored three goals and tallied a team-high four assists to lead the United States to a gold medal. She is the first player, male or female, to score a goal directly from a corner at the Olympic Games. She won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France.
Rapinoe grew up in Redding, California, with her parents, Jim and Denise, and five siblings, including her fraternal twinRachael Rapinoe. Denise and Jim raised seven children together, not all their own. Denise has a son and daughter, Michael and Jenny, from a previous marriage; then came older brother Brian and then the twins five years later. Jim and her grandfather Jack both served in the Army. She has Italian (from her paternal grandfather) and Irish ancestry. She idolized her older brother Brian and started playing soccer at age three after watching him play the sport, but he started using drugs when the girls were in second grade. When she was ten and he was fifteen, he was put in juvenile detention, and was thereafter in and out of various prisons including the super-max Pelican Bay State Prison. Brian has since made a determined effort to avoid drugs after seeing his younger sister's success in international soccer and not being able to be present with his family. For both Rachael and Megan, soccer was a means to get away from the drug abuse that is widespread in rural California.
Rapinoe spent most of her youth playing with teams coached by her father until high school. Instead of playing soccer at Foothill High School, Rapinoe played for the Elk Grove Pride club team, located south of Sacramento. She competed in track as a freshman and sophomore; competed in basketball as a freshman, sophomore, and senior; and was on the honor roll every semester of high school. Rapinoe was named Parade and National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American as a junior and senior. She was named to McDonald's All-American Girls High School Soccer West Team in 2004. Rapinoe played for the under-14 Northern California state Olympic Development Program (ODP) team in 1999, as well as the regional ODP team in 2002.
Elk Grove United, 2002–2005
From 2002 to 2005, Rapinoe played for Elk Grove Pride in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) along with her sister, Rachael, and future national teammate, Stephanie Cox. She and her family commuted two-and-a-half hours from her hometown to play with the team. During the US Youth Soccer National Championships, she scored an equalizer goal in the 18th minute to tie the game 1–1 against the Peachtree City Lazers. Elk Grove United finished second at the nationals after the Lazers scored a game-winning goal in the second half.
In 2005, as a freshman, Rapinoe helped the Pilots to an undefeated season and the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship. During the College Cup quarterfinal against Notre Dame, she scored twice and served one assist, helping the Pilots win 3–1 and advance in the College Cup. During the College Cup final against UCLA, she scored one goal and served an assist helping the Pilots win 4–0. She was named NSCAA First Team All-American and was on the Soccer America First Team Freshman All-America. Rapinoe made the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship All Tournament Team and was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. She was also named to the All-West Coast Conference First Team and the All-West Coast Conference Freshman Team. Rapinoe played and started all 25 games as an attacking midfielder, scoring 15 goals and adding 13 assists for 43 points – ranking fifth for freshman point totals in the school's history. That year, she also scored seven game-winning goals.
"I know this sounds weird, but getting hurt was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It really gave me a different perspective. Before, everything was going how it was supposed to be and I wasn't really appreciative of what I was doing and what it took to be there. The injury grounded me in a lot of different ways. The rehab process makes you stronger on all fronts, mentally and physically. I feel stronger and a better person for it. I would never wish it on anyone, but I don't wish I could take it back."
After taking her time to recover from her second ACL injury, Rapinoe returned for the 2008 season and was on the starting lineup in all 22 games for the Pilots. She helped the team secure a 20–2 record scoring five goals and serving 13 assists. Her 13 assists ranked first for the Pilots as well as in the West Coast Conference and she was named West Coast Conference Player of the Year. She was also named a Soccer America First-Team All-American and NSCAA Second Team All-American. Although she had one more season of college eligibility remaining due to her NCAA medical hardship waiver, she opted to enter the Women's Professional Soccer Draft instead. Rapinoe's 88-point career, including 30 goals and 28 assists, ranks tenth in the school's history despite her playing only 60 games.
In December 2010, Rapinoe signed with expansion team Philadelphia Independence after the Chicago Red Stars ceased operations. She appeared in four games and scored one goal before being traded to MagicJack (formerly Washington Freedom) while she was in Germany for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. It was reported that the "cash considerations" involved in the transfer were $100,000. The average salary for a female player in the league was $25,000. Rapinoe scored two goals in her eight regular season appearances for MagicJack helping the team finish third in the league standings and secure a spot in the playoffs. During the team's semi-final match against the Boston Breakers on August 17, 2011, Rapinoe scored in the 61st minute solidifying the team's 3–1 win and advancement to the championship final. MagicJack was later defeated 2–0 by the Philadelphia Independence in the final. On October 25, 2011, the WPS voted to terminate the MagicJack franchise, leaving Rapinoe and many other players as free agents for the 2012 season. The league suspended operations in early 2012.
Sydney FC and Seattle Sounders Women, 2011–2012
In October 2011, Rapinoe signed with Australian W-League team Sydney FC as a guest player for two games. In her second game against Melbourne Victory, she scored with seven minutes remaining to seal three points for Sydney. The win was the first for Sydney during the 2011–12 season. Sydney FC went on to finish third in the regular season and advanced to the playoffs where they were defeated by Brisbane Roar in penalty kicks.
During the summer of 2012, Rapinoe joined fellow national team members Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan and Stephanie Cox to play with the Seattle Sounders Women in between camps with the national team as they prepared for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Of the signing, Sounders head coach Michelle French said, "Stemming from her leadership and success at the University of Portland, Megan has continued to evolve and grow into one of the most exciting, unpredictable, creative, and flashy players in the women's game." Rapinoe made two appearances during the regular season with the team, serving two assists. With Rapinoe and her national teammates' presence on the team, the Sounders sold out nine of their ten home matches at the 4,500 capacity Starfire Stadium. Average attendance during the 2012 season for the Sounders Women was four times higher than the next closest team.
In January 2013, Rapinoe signed for six months with Olympique Lyonnais, the French side that had previously won six consecutive French league championships and two straight European titles, for a reported €11,000 (or approximately $14,000) a month. Rapinoe played in six regular season matches for the team, scoring two goals primarily playing as a left winger in the squad's 4–3–3 formation.
Rapinoe made her UEFA Women's Champions League debut during the first leg of the 2012–13 quarterfinal against FC Malmö on March 20. She scored one goal during her 24 minutes on the pitch contributing to Lyon's 5–0 final victory. She later scored a goal and served an assist during Lyon's 6–1 win over FCF Juvisy in the second leg of the semi-finals. Rapinoe became the fifth American woman in history to play in a Champions League final when Lyon faced German side VfL Wolfsburg on May 23. Lyon was defeated 1–0 in the final. Rapinoe concluded her Champions League debut having made five appearances, scoring two goals and serving one assist.
After returning to Lyon for the 2013–14 season, Rapinoe scored three goals in her eight appearances for the club. During the 2013–14 Champions League, she made four appearances for Lyon and scored one goal during the team's 6–0 defeat of FC Twente. Lyon was eliminated in the Round of 16. In January 2014, it was announced that Rapinoe had ended her time with Lyon earlier than planned and would be returning to the Seattle Reign for the entire 2014 season. She finished her time with Lyon having scored 8 goals in 28 matches in all competitions.
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2019)
In 2013, Rapinoe joined Seattle Reign FC to which she had been previously allocated in the National Women's Soccer League. Before Rapinoe joined the squad, the team had been struggling to score goals and were 0–9–1 in ten games. With the addition of Rapinoe, her national team and former Seattle Sounders Women teammate, Hope Solo, and some lineup changes to the front line, the Reign improved their goal-scoring ability and turned their league record around. During a match against her former team in the WPS, the Chicago Red Stars, Rapinoe played a direct role in all of Seattle's four goals – leading the team to a 4–1 win over Chicago. After scoring two goals and serving one assist during the match, she was named NWSL Player of the Week for Week 16 for the 2013 NWSL season. Despite only playing approximately half of the season (12 out of 22 regular season games), Rapinoe was the Reign's leading scorer with five goals.
After suffering a foot injury during the first home match of the 2014 season on April 14, Rapinoe sat out several games and made her second season appearance on July 3 against Western New York Flash. Her four goals and one assist during the regular season helped the Reign secure the league's regular season title (NWSL Shield) with a 16–2–6 record and 54 points – 13 points ahead of the second place team, FC Kansas City. During the team's playoff semi-final match against Washington Spirit, Rapinoe scored a goal helping the Reign win 2–1 and advance to the championship final against FC Kansas City. Despite Rapinoe's goal during the championship final, the Reign was ultimately defeated by Kansas City 2–1.
Due to two separate ACL injuries, Rapinoe did not play for the senior team in 2007 or 2008 and subsequently missed the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Upon her return to the team in 2009, she led the team in points with five, including two goals and one assist. She was on the starting lineup in six of the seven games in which she played the same year.
During the 2009 Algarve Cup, Rapinoe scored the game-winning goal against Norway leading the team to a 1–0 victory during the team's third group stage match of the tournament. After the U.S. finished at the top of their group, they were defeated during a penalty kick shootout by Sweden in the championship final.
Rapinoe was named to the United States roster for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. During the team's second group stage match against Colombia, she entered the match during the 50th minute and scored almost immediately to put the United States up 2–0. Rapinoe celebrated her goal by running to the corner to the left of Colombia's goal, picking up an on-field microphone being used for the match's television broadcast, tapping it, and singing Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." into it.
During the quarterfinal match against Brazil, Rapinoe came on as a substitute and served the precise cross to Abby Wambach's equalizer goal in the 122nd minute of the game: a goal that holds the record for latest goal ever scored in a World Cup match. Rapinoe would later convert her shot during the penalty shootout to help send the United States to the semi-finals. Rapinoe described her last minute cross against Brazil: "I just took a touch and friggin' smacked it with my left foot. I don't think I've hit a ball like that with my left foot. I got it to the back post and that beast in the air just got a hold of it."
Following the match against Brazil, Rapinoe was named ESPN's Next Level Player of the Week for completing 5 of 10 crosses while the rest of the team was 0 for 18. She served an assist in the semi-final against France in which the United States won 3–1. During the dramatic final match against Japan in front of 48,817 spectators at sold-out Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt and a record-breaking international television audience, Rapinoe served her third assist of the tournament to Alex Morgan who scored the game-opening goal in the 69th minute. The United States tied Japan 2–2 during regular and overtime leading to their second penalty kick shootout of the tournament. They were defeated 3–1 in penalties and concluded the tournament with a silver medal. Rapinoe's tournament record included one goal and three assists. She played in all six games for the United States.
2012 London Olympics
Rapinoe takes a corner kick in the gold medal match at the 2012 London Olympics.
Rapinoe helped lead the United States to a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. During the team's second group stage match against Colombia, she scored the game-winning goal in the 33rd minute in what became a 3–0 win for the Americans. After the U.S. defeated North Korea 1–0 in their final group stage match, they faced New Zealand in the quarterfinals and won 2–0.
During a dramatic semi-final match against Canada at Old Trafford, Rapinoe scored two game-equalizing goals in the 54th and 70th minutes. Her first goal was scored directly from a corner — a corner kick that goes untouched by another player into the net. She is the first and so far only player, male or female, to score an Olimpico at the Olympic Games. The
U.S. defeated Canada 4–3 with a stoppage time goal in the 123rd minute by Alex Morgan. With her two goals, Rapinoe is one of only five players, including Wei Haiying, Cristiane, Angela Hucles and Christine Sinclair, to have scored two goals during an Olympic semi-final.
Rapinoe after the gold medal match at 2012 Summer Olympics; August 9, 2012
The United States team clinched the gold medal after defeating Japan 2–1 at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,203 spectators — the largest crowd ever for a women's Olympic soccer game. Rapinoe assisted on Carli Lloyd's second goal of the final in the 53rd minute. She ended the tournament with three goals and a team-high of four assists (tied with Alex Morgan). Widely regarded as one of the top players of the Olympics, Rapinoe was named to numerous 'Team of the Tournament' lists including those selected by the BBC and All White Kit.
Rapinoe achieved a career-best 8 goals and 12 assists for the United States in 2012.
At the 2013 Algarve Cup in Portugal, Rapinoe was named the Player of the Tournament, despite playing in only two of the four matches in which the United States competed. She was injured in practice and did not play during the final as the team defeated Germany to win the 2013 Algarve Cup.
Rapinoe battles for the ball during a match against New Zealand at Candlestick Park, 2013.
During a friendly match against South Korea on June 20, 2013, Rapinoe served a corner kick that ended up being the assist for Abby Wambach's record-breaking 159th international goal. Wambach's goal broke the world record for most international goals scored by a male or female. During a friendly match against New Zealand at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California, Rapinoe scored the game-opening goal on a direct free kick (her 23rd international goal) to help the U.S. win 4–1 and was named Player of the Match.
2015 FIFA Women's World Cup
In April 2015, Rapinoe was named to the roster for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada coached by national team head coach Jill Ellis. During the team's first group stage match against Australia, she scored the game opening goal in the 12th minute. She also scored a second goal in the 78th minute. With an additional goal scored by teammate Christen Press in the 61st minute, the United States won 3–1.
During training for a Victory Tour match to celebrate the team's World Cup win in late 2015, Rapinoe tore her anterior cruciate ligament. The national team game that she was training for was later cancelled due to poor field conditions.
Rapinoe was named to the United States' 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup roster in May 2019; it was her third World Cup appearance. In a 13–0 win over Thailand during the group stage of the tournament, she contributed a goal. The United States advanced to the knockout stage, where they faced Spain. Rapinoe scored twice in a 2–1 victory that sent the U.S. to a quarterfinal matchup against the host country, France. In the fifth minute, Rapinoe scored on a free kick to give the United States an early lead. She later added a second goal, and the U.S. held on to earn a semi-final berth. Rapinoe was named Player of the Match by FIFA for her performances in the round of 16 and quarterfinals.
Because of an injured hamstring, Rapinoe was forced to sit out of the United States' semi-final victory over England, but she recovered in time to start in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final. During the final on July 7 in front of a sold-out crowd of 57,900 fans at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Rapinoe scored her 50th international goal on a penalty kick in the 61st minute. After a second goal by teammate Rose Lavelle, the United States defeated the Netherlands 2–0 to clinch its second consecutive World Cup championship. At age 34, Rapinoe was the oldest woman to score in a World Cup final and was named Player of the Match. She was awarded the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the tournament with six goals, having played fewer minutes than her teammate Alex Morgan and England's Ellen White, who also recorded six goals. Rapinoe also earned the Golden Ball award as the best player at the tournament.
Key (expand for notes on “international goals” and sorting)
Geographic location of the venue where the competition occurred Sorted by country name first, then by city name
Start – played entire match onminute (offplayer) – substituted on at the minute indicated, and player was substituted off at the same time
offminute (onplayer) – substituted off at the minute indicated, and player was substituted on at the same time
(c) – captain Sorted by minutes played
Goal in match
Goal of total goals by the player in the match Sorted by total goals followed by goal number
NumberOfGoals.goalNumber scored by the player in the match (alternate notation to Goal in match)
The minute in the match the goal was scored. For list that include caps, blank indicates played in the match but did not score a goal.
The ball was passed by the player, which assisted in scoring the goal. This column depends on the availability and source of this information.
penalty or pk
Goal scored on penalty-kick which was awarded due to foul by opponent. (Goals scored in penalty-shoot-out, at the end of a tied match after extra-time, are not included.)
The match score after the goal was scored. Sorted by goal difference, then by goal scored by the player's team
The final score.
Sorted by goal difference in the match, then by goal difference in penalty-shoot-out if it is taken, followed by goal scored by the player's team in the match, then by goal scored in the penalty-shoot-out. For matches with identical final scores, match ending in extra-time without penalty-shoot-out is a tougher match, therefore precede matches that ended in regulation
The score at the end of extra-time; the match was tied at the end of 90' regulation
Penalty-shoot-out score shown in parenthesis; the match was tied at the end of extra-time
Light-purple background color – exhibition or closed door international friendly match
Light-yellow background color – match at an invitational tournament
Light-orange background color – Olympic women's football qualification match
Light-blue background color – FIFA women's world cup qualification match
Pink background color – Continental Games or regional tournament
Orange background color – Olympic women's football tournament
Blue background color – FIFA women's world cup final tournament
NOTE on background colors: Continental Games or regional tournament are sometimes also qualifier for World Cup or Olympics; information depends on the source such as the player's federation.
NOTE: some keys may not apply for a particular football player
Rapinoe poses with the national team and President Barack Obama at the White House, 2015.
Following the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, Rapinoe's hometown of Redding honored her with a parade and named September 10 "Megan Rapinoe Day". She received the Harry Glickman Professional Female Athlete of the Year award at the 60th annual Oregon Sports Awards held on February 12, 2012. On October 25, 2012, she was one of ten female soccer players shortlisted for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award. The same year, she was named a finalist for Sports Illustrated's Most Inspiring Performers of 2012. Rapinoe was awarded the board of directors Award by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center on November 10, 2012, for bringing awareness to LGBT people in sports.
Rapinoe knew that she was lesbian by her first year in college. She publicly came out in the July 2012 edition of Out magazine, stating that she had been in a relationship with Australian soccer player Sarah Walsh since 2009. After approximately five years together, Rapinoe and Walsh ended their relationship in 2013. Rapinoe later dated Sub Pop recording artist Sera Cahoone. Rapinoe and Cahoone announced their engagement in August 2015. In January 2017, Rapinoe stated that their wedding plans were on hold. On July 20, 2017, Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird of Seattle Storm confirmed that they had been dating since late 2016. In 2018, Bird and Rapinoe became the first same-sex couple on the cover of ESPN's The Body Issue. The couple announced their engagement on October 30, 2020.
Speaking in an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Rapinoe discussed how her older brother, who was the first to inspire her to play soccer, had suffered with drug abuse. He has also spent periods of time in jail, including solitary confinement. Rapinoe explained that during his incarceration, her brother became involved with white supremacist groups within prison.
Rapinoe speaks on equal pay in March 2021
Rapinoe garnered national attention for kneeling during the national anthem at an international match in September 2016 in solidarity with NFL Colin Kaepernick. Following the match, she stated:
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. [...] 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.
During the 2015 World Cup, she stood in silence for the national anthem. She spoke out about the use of stadiums with artificial turf, its first use in a senior women's or men's World Cup tournament.
In September 2017, Rapinoe and U.S. teammate Alex Morgan were part of a group of soccer players who signed up for the "Common Goal" campaign created by Juan Mata of Manchester United. As participants in the campaign, players donate one percent of their individual wages in support of other soccer-related charities. Rapinoe and Morgan were the first two women players to sign on to the campaign.
On September 4, 2016, during a game in Chicago against the Red Stars, Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial injustice and minority oppression. She said at the time she planned to continue to kneel. Later that week on September 7, the Washington Spirit uncharacteristically played the national anthem prior to the teams taking the field, indicating that they did not want to "subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent". In an additional statement, the Spirit management said "to willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves."
Rapinoe expressed displeasure with this move, saying, "it was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event." She continued the protest on September 15, 2016, during the national team game against Thailand.U.S. Soccer then issued a statement saying: "Representing your country is a privilege and honor for any player or coach that is associated with U.S. Soccer's National Teams. Therefore, our national anthem has particular significance for U.S. Soccer. In front of national and often global audiences, the playing of our national anthem is an opportunity for our Men's and Women's National Team players and coaches to reflect upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country. As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played." In addressing the issue, Rapinoe stated in an interview that "using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly", and further stated that she would probably never sing the national anthem again.
^Billings, Jon. "Sounders Sign World Cup Star Megan Rapinoe". Seattle Sounders Women. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2014. '"Stemming from her leadership and success at the University of Portland, Megan has continued to evolve and grow into one of the most exciting, unpredictable, creative, and flashy players in the women's game," said Sounders Women Head Coach, Michelle French.'
^ abc"'It was a little nod to Kaepernick': Megan Rapinoe kneels for Star-Spangled Banner". The Guardian. September 5, 2016. Archived from the original on July 4, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019. 'On Sunday, Rapinoe said her gesture was a nod towards Kaepernick. "It was very intentional," Rapinoe told American Soccer Now after the game. "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."'