In her final World Cup appearance before retirement, USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe‘s missed penalty kick summarized their painful loss to Sweden 5-4. The United States women’s national team exited in the round of 16 for the first time in its history in Melbourne, Australia.

But Rapinoe wasn’t the only one to miss their penalty kick, as she was one of three U.S. players to miss their penalties in a shootout after the game was scoreless through regular and extra time.

Asked what she was thinking when she stepped up to take her penalty, Rapinoe said: “I’m gonna score. Back of the net. Always.”

“A sick joke,” Rapinoe said. “That’s why I had that smile on my face. Like, ‘You got to be f—ing kidding me. I’m going to miss the penalty?’ I honestly can’t remember the last time I missed a penalty. Not in a game for a very long time.”


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“But that’s the way it goes. I’ve definitely thought about that before – it’s always a possibility when you step up there. But I thought I was going to make it. I thought everyone was going to make it.”

Rapinoe correctly remembered that her last missed penalty in general, regardless of country or club, was in 2018, when goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury made a save against her in the NWSL.

Prior to the World Cup starting in early July, Rapinoe announced the Australia and New Zealand tournament would be her last, planning to retire at the end of the 2023 NWSL season making this year’s World Cup her final one.

“I feel so lucky and so grateful to play as long as I have and been on as many successful teams as I have, and be a part of a very special generation that has done so much on and off the field,” Rapinoe said. “It would be hard to feel disappointed in any type of way.”

In 2006, she made her USWNT debut and was part of the World Cup-winning squads in 2015 and 2019.

“Obviously there’s the immediate disappointment of being out of the tournament, but I’m ok. I’m ready in a lot of ways to be done and I feel at peace with that.”

Rapinoe was moved to tears when asked to reflect on her final World Cup and her career.

“I’ve loved every bit of my career,” she said. “I’ll miss it to death, but it also feels like the right time and that’s ok.”

“It’s some dark humor, me missing the penalty at the end of this game,” she added, laughing.

Rapinoe will be known as one of the most impactful figures in the history of soccer in the U.S. and in the global women’s game as an icon. On the turf, she was reputable for scoring in creative ways and had a handful of clutch performances. Her personality defined her game and was a vocal supporter of many social issues including LGBTQ rights, racial inequality, voter rights, and gender and pay equality.

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