Megan Rapinoe admitted Sunday to some frustration over her limited playing time for the United States at the FIFA Women’s World Cup but believes she can still change games off the bench for the holders.
The veteran was a regular starter in the US teams that won the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, but at the age of 38 she is no longer a first pick in a side now coached by Vlatko Andonovski.
After getting half an hour as a substitute in the opening 3-0 win over Vietnam, Rapinoe did not get on as the defending champions battled back to draw 1-1 with the Netherlands in their last game.
Speaking in Auckland, she opened up on some frustration at not playing more of a role on the field, but also hopes her experience off the pitch can help the Americans’ 14 World Cup newcomers.
“You still have a lot to offer both on and off the field. Maybe you are not going to be a starter, playing the 90 minutes, but sometimes as a bench player that is not what you need,” said Rapinoe, who will retire at the end of the season.
“You need the 20 minutes in two games that wins the team the tournament.
“Every day in training I am like, ‘I am going to bust your ass’, and that makes them and me better.”
Andonovski has so far preferred a front three of Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman either side of Alex Morgan, with Rapinoe and Lynn Williams both having to watch the whole game against the Netherlands from the sidelines
“We try to give that energy from the bench, bring that experience, knowing that the day after the game the subs always train,” Rapinoe added.
“It is hard. You cry in the shower, or with your friends in the sauna, and then you come out to training and you bust ass and you have fun and you make the best of it.”
It remains to be seen if the coach decides to change things up for the USA’s final Group E match on Tuesday against Portugal at Eden Park in Auckland.
The holders need to avoid defeat in that game to be sure of qualifying for the last 16 and it may be that they need to win by a big scoreline to finish in first place.
“The conversations I have had with Vlatko in general, when the time is right and the situation in the game is ready, I will be ready,” said Rapinoe.
“For us it is on Portugal and we have a chance to top the group and get into the best part of the tournament.”
Rapinoe believes her teammates can thrive under the pressure of having to deliver, whether she is on the pitch or not.
“Of course there is a little bit of anxiousness any time there is a result that needs to be had. That is exciting, everybody knows that too.
“We go into these moments like ‘Hell yeah’.
“We are excited, we are unsatisfied with the way we have played, but we know the areas where we can be better.”
[With inputs from AFP]
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