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Home USA Megan Rapinoe breaks silence after World Cup criticism as retiring forward insists she is ‘immensely proud’ of ‘special’ USWNT… and ‘heartbroken’ Sophia Smith vows the US will be back

Megan Rapinoe breaks silence after World Cup criticism as retiring forward insists she is ‘immensely proud’ of ‘special’ USWNT… and ‘heartbroken’ Sophia Smith vows the US will be back

by nytime
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Megan Rapinoe has spoken out following the heavy criticism she received after the United States’ ‘heartbreaking’ exit from the Women’s World Cup.

Rapinoe was one of three U.S. players to miss a penalty as the reigning champions were eliminated by Sweden in the round of 16.

The 38-year-old has come under heavy fire for laughing following the penalty miss – the last act of her international career – with critics labelling her ‘the epitome of selfish’ and ‘diabolically arrogant’.

On Wednesday night, Rapinoe and a number of her USWNT teammates released statements on social media following their World Cup exit. 

She did not directly address the flak she has received but Rapinoe did admit this was a ‘cruel’ moment in her career. 

Megan Rapinoe came in for heavy criticism following the United States' World Cup exit

Megan Rapinoe came in for heavy criticism following the United States’ World Cup exit

Rapinoe was one of three U.S. players to miss a penalty as they were eliminated by Sweden

Rapinoe was one of three U.S. players to miss a penalty as they were eliminated by Sweden

The 38-year-old has come under heavy fire for laughing following the penalty miss

The 38-year-old has come under heavy fire for laughing following the penalty miss 

‘This game is so beautiful, even in its cruelest moments. This group was so very special, and I am immensely proud of every single one of us,’ Rapinoe wrote alongside a photo of the devastated team.

‘This team is in special hands as I walk away, just like it always was, and always will be. Because that is what this team is all about. 

‘We lay it all out on the line every single time. Fighting with everything that we have, for everything we deserve, for every person we possibly can.

‘It has been my honor to play for our country, with so many incredible woman, for so many years. Thank you, a million times over.’

The team’s ‘inexplicable’ exit from the tournament sparked calls for ‘top to bottom’ overhaul of women’s soccer in the United States.

Rapinoe and a number of her USWNT teammates released statements on social media

Rapinoe and a number of her USWNT teammates released statements on social media

'This game is so beautiful, even in its cruelest moments,' Rapinoe wrote on Wednesday night

‘This game is so beautiful, even in its cruelest moments,’ Rapinoe wrote on Wednesday night

But Rapinoe’s teammates Lindsey Horan and Sophia Smith both vowed the team will bounce back.

‘Heartbroken,’ wrote Smith, one of the team’s standout performers at the tournament. 

‘This World Cup was filled with just about every emotion possible, what I’ve learned is more valuable than any experience I’ve ever had. 

‘Thank you to those who believed and supported us throughout the tournament, and most importantly to those who still do and never stopped. 

‘It wouldn’t be life without moments like this, and I know without a doubt we will be back and hungrier than ever.’

Sophia Smith, one of the US' standout performers at the World Cup, said she was 'heartbroken'

Sophia Smith, one of the US’ standout performers at the World Cup, said she was ‘heartbroken’

Lindsey Horan thanked even the team's 'doubters' as she reflected on their round of 16 exit

Lindsey Horan thanked even the team’s ‘doubters’ as she reflected on their round of 16 exit

Horan thanked even the team’s ‘doubters’ as she reflected on their round of 16 exit. 

‘Unbelievable… the emotions football can give you. This is why we play right? To live in the biggest pressure moments. To play on the greatest stage,’ she wrote.

‘Playing for something you’ve dreamt of your entire life. Playing to inspire. Playing to bring joy. Playing in front of all of you. This is why I love this game so much. Thank you to everyone who supported us. Thank you to everyone who doubted us. 

‘I’m so proud of this team. So so proud. This one will hurt for a while. Disappointed to not go further but this is football. Football can be won and lost by moments and millimeters. We will grow. We will be back.’

That mood of defiance was echoed by forward Lynn Williams, who hit out at those ‘unfathomably’ questioning the team’s ‘dedication’.

Lynn Williams (right) hit out at those 'unfathomably' questioning the team's 'dedication'

Lynn Williams (right) hit out at those ‘unfathomably’ questioning the team’s ‘dedication’

‘Sometimes, soccer can be cruel,’ she wrote We sacrifice so much for this game – Time away from our families, tearing our bodies apart, and a billion other things that most people will never understand. For our dedication and reasoning for wearing the crest to be questioned is unfathomable.

‘I am proud of this team! When things weren’t clicking, we came together to find a solution. It worked. From the sidelines our performance against Sweden was beautiful to watch, from the field it was a joy to play. That was us. Playing freely and finding our joy again. Unfortunately, soccer can be cruel.

‘For me, I am proud of all I have done. A girl from Fresno, CA who didn’t grow up in the youth soccer system, who only had one university take a chance on her (Pepperdine), and who had to fight, scratch and claw her way onto this team of elite and powerful women. 

‘I hope my story can inspire even just 1 person to not take “no” for an answer and to keep fighting even if you feel overlooked and under appreciated. To wear this crest is always and honor and a privilege…. thank you’

.

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