Amid Controversy O’Reilly and USWNT Shine
Amid Controversy O’Reilly and USWNT Shine avatar

On a night when the game was more or less beside the point, Rapinoe knelt, Hope stayed away, Heather O’Reilly said goodbye, and oh, by the way, the U.S.A. clobbered Thailand 9-0 in Columbus.

Rapinoe's protest cause controversy. (Getty Images)

Rapinoe’s protest caused controversy. (Getty Images)

The most dramatic action of the evening took place before the kickoff when Megan Rapinoe knelt on the sideline as the Star Spangled Banner played at MAPFRE Stadium.

Rapinoe took a knee in support of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose refusal to stand for the U.S. national anthem has sparked controversy as well as a discussion on race relations in this country.

Following the game, U.S. Soccer released this statement: “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,” the statement read. “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.”

O'Reilly captained her team on the evening. (Getty Images)

O’Reilly captained her team on the evening. (Getty Images)

With that backdrop, Heather O’Reilly faced an uphill battle to get her due as she played the last match of her glorious international career. But it was just over one minute into the match that O’Reilly reminded the MAPFRE Stadium crowd that there was drama to be found on the field too when she delivered one her patented crosses for Carli Lloyd to head home.

Three minutes after O’Reilly teed up Lloyd, Lloyd turned provider setting up Christen Press for the second U.S. goal before O’Reilly got her final international goal on an assist from Lloyd.

It was part of a remarkable stat line for Carli Lloyd that saw the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year finish with a personal tally of three goals and four assists on the night.

Heather O'Reilly (Getty Images)

In her final international match Heather O’Reilly scored her 47th senior international goal.  (Getty Images)

O’Reilly steps away from the U.S. WNT having totaled 47 goals in 231 games but the winger has let it be known that she will continue to play on next season in the NWSL with her Kansas City FC club.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 4 5 9
THA 0 0 0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Heather O’Reilly) 1st minute
USA – Christen Press (Carli Lloyd) 4
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Carli Lloyd) 5
USA – Tobin Heath (Carli Lloyd) 36
USA – Carli Lloyd 60
USA – Crystal Dunn (Becky Sauerbrunn) 70
USA – Carli Lloyd (Lindsey Horan) 81
USA – Alex Morgan (Carli Lloyd) 86
USA – Alex Morgan 90+2

Lineups:
USA: 22-Ashlyn Harris; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 8-Julie Johnston (16-Crystal Dunn, 64), 11-Ali Krieger (7-Meghan Klingenberg, 46); 3-Allie Long (21-Emily Sonnett, 46), 20-Samantha Mewis (19-Lindsey Horan, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd; 9-Heather O’Reilly (capt.), 12-Christen Press (13-Alex Morgan, 46), 17-Tobin Heath (15-Megan Rapinoe, 46)
Subs not used: 18-Alyssa Naeher
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

THA: 18-Yada Sengyong, 2-Kanjanaporn Saenkhun, 4-Duangnapa Sritala (capt.), 6-Pikul Khueanpet, 7-Silawan Intamee (20-Wilaiporn Boothduang, 82), 9-Warunee Phetwiset, 10-Sunisa Srangthaisong, 11-Alisa Rukpinij (17-Anootsara Maijarern, 65), 12-Rattikan Thongsombut (21-Kanjana Sung-ngoen, 46), 13-Orathai Srimanee (8-Naphat Seesraum, 65), 19-Pitsamai Sornsai (23-Nisa Romyen, 82)
Subs not used: 1-Waraporn Boonsing, 3-Natthakarn Chinwong, 5-Ainon Phancha, 14-Thanatta Chawong, 16-Khwanruedee Saengchan
Head Coach: Spencer Prior

Stats Summary: USA / THA
Shots: 32 / 7
Shots on Goal: 16 / 4
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 6 / 0
Fouls: 6 / 3
Offside: 4 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Lindsey Horan (caution) 90th minute

 

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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20 Responses to Amid Controversy O’Reilly and USWNT Shine
Amid Controversy O’Reilly and USWNT Shine avatar

  1. George Lund says:

    Megan Rapinoe should be disciplined for her display. If she doesn’t want to respect our country she should not be allowed to play for our country.

    • Tom Venezia says:

      I couldn’t agree more! Why they let her step foot on the field is a mystery to me. As citizens of this great country we enjoy many freedoms; all of which have been provided to us by those willing to serve and protect our nation. All Americans have the right to openly voice their opinion and take a position on matters affecting our society, but not at the expense of our Flag or our National Anthem. If you are wearing the uniform of our National Team with our countries flag embroidered on your chest, have enough respect for those that made it possible for you to do so and appropriately honor our country. If you are unwilling to do so then find another country to play for.

    • IX says:

      Respect for the country means applying the rights we have to protest and ensure equality for all.
      Thank you Megan Rapinoe for being a brave and proud American.
      All of you who just conform and do as you are told without question are nothing more than a bunch of communist dolts. Learn stand up for something worthwhile instead of complaining when someone rocks the boat. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO QUESTION AUTHORITY. Our country was found by dissidents and revolutionaries who very much wanted to make sure we had the right to keep government in check. This is why we have the right to protest without the kind of consequences you are speaking of. She took the field because we are not a bunch of slaves living under a dictator. Try reading the constitution and a few other books which will help you understand your privileges and rights and RESPONSIBILITIES to your country before you start throwing ridiculous statements around.

  2. Steffi Benjamin says:

    It is an honor to represent your country and if an athlete can’t honor the national anthem, the athlete should remove himself/herself from the game. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  3. Joe Nelson says:

    While playing for the National team of the United States of America, a player refuses to respect the flag that represents that nation? The very nation that has given her the chance to play this great game? I totally agree that if a player is going to play for our country, they should represent the best of who we are as Americans and do so proudly or not be part of the team.

  4. Ken Woodring says:

    Agree with previous comment – ESPECIALLY when wearing a USA jersey.
    Jill Ellis can learn something from John Tortorella on what it means to coach a US National team.

  5. Craig Willams says:

    Just over a month ago Rapinoe represented the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics. She didn’t show that disrespect during those games. She stood up for the National Anthem then. Now, she want to be disrespectful and and rude just to support Colin Kaepernick’s stupidity? She could have used her voice to support that idiot, yet still stood up for the anthem! But she chose to be a follower instead of a leader.

  6. Andy Ipkovich says:

    I’m a sailor who served with gay members of the military. It bother’s me a bit when these athletes kneel during the anthem. I just want them to remember that black, white, gay, straight service people have committed their lives to defend the constitution and the athletes rights.
    We sacrifice and die, they get to protest……….

    • IX says:

      the flag isn’t representative of the military alone. That’s the point of the protest. It must represent us all or its worthless.

  7. dave m says:

    Props to O’Reilly we will miss you! I agree with the above comments that an individual representing our country should be a person who honors our traditions. If she feels that she cannot there is the door! I sincerely hope US Soccer and the WNT will take action before the fans take action and leave the team as is their right.

  8. Laura Gustafson says:

    There are hundreds of young women soccer players that would give anything to play on the US National Team and be proud to do so. There is no excuse for such disrespect of our country and the Game! Rapinoe needs to be replaced!

  9. Steve M says:

    This is simple, the US Soccer board should release her from the team effective NOW. Hope Solo was released for misconduct and her statements were aimed at another country. We are giving Rapinoe who isn’t even a starter free press as if she is somebody, she’s nobody. You put on that USA uniform and you accept that you are a role model for all of the kids in America. You put a negative light on said country and you are GONE. Go have beer, shout vulgar things at the police and beat up a few family members with Hope Solo and leave the mentoring of the kids to the Mia Hamm’s of the world. Oh and don’t forget to reimburse the money you have collected to wear that uniform or better yet donate all of that money to the wounded warrior fund. BEAT IT!

  10. Rose Ann Cox says:

    I really hope that US soccer will stand against this lame publicity stunt and respond like the Hockey coach who expects every player to stand with pride for our country. So many lives have been lost and soldiers wounded, to preserve our freedoms and unlimited opportunities in this great country. This action is especially worse for a player like this, who represents our country on an international stage. It is a disgrace. For Kapernick and all these players involved, there are many other solutions like mentoring, volunteer work and charities where they can be a constructive part of the solution and not more of the problem. She should not be able to play on the team, or be like Kapernick who just sits the bench for the whole game anyway. Give her position to someone who knows how to appreciate it.

  11. Bob Chinn says:

    In the USA everyone has a right to disagree and express their disagreement in a repectfull way. Megan discussion to disrespect her country on this stage and all it has provided for her was a poor decision. Just as Hope had consequcnces for her poor decision after the Olympics the same should be coming for Megan. In fact the question is which action was more disrespectful and harmful for USA Women’s Soccer. I think most people respect her right to express herself. Doing it on the field in this fashion is wrong. The money and education that has been provided to her thanks to this country is amazing. I know A LOT of inner city kids who would love to have had half the opportunities she has been given. Now is the time for US Soccer to step up and make sure ALL the players are treated fairly. It is also the time for Megan to step forward and really help address the issues she feels so strongly about. I know it would be awesome to see her step up and join Law Enforcement and the county as a whole. The impact she would have have as a Police Officer, a mentor, a leader of the community would be awesome! I know that is asking a lot more then taking a knee but if we as a country are to really address and work on correcting these issues we need more people to take stand up and get involved vs taking a knee on the sidelines.

  12. Michelle Bedard says:

    Rapinoe tried to hijack the attention from O’Reilly and to me that is the last thing a true teammate should do. She is not about the so-called social injustice but about herself. I would say “No” retirement celebration for her just a swift kick to the road. I appreciate the following statement and hope they do something about it.

    Following the game, U.S. Soccer released this statement: “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,” the statement read. “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.”

  13. Scott says:

    I find it amazing to read all this rabid nationalism about “honoring the flag” and putting down Rapinoe when you should be upholding her right to dissent (read the US constitution: freedom of speech). She is trying to make us think about what goes on around us. Yes, there is still a lot of racism (and other forms of chauvinisms) that need to be dealt with in and out of sports. Think of all the dissenters before her who have helped to change the world for the better.

  14. wye says:

    Lockstep denunciation in the above comments. Wow. Some blatant misconstruing of her kneeling as well – as disrespect for the flag or the nation or its ideals – which is not intended nor in any meaningful way DISRESPECTS the flag itself or the nation it represents. Those people who fought on battlefields for our country’s ideals, fought for the ideal of free expression (protected from government sanction in our constitution), equality before the law, and the basket of democratic ideals that Kaepernick (and other athletes who are now joining with his particular calling of attention to a perceived problem) is protesting need to be better attended. If you want to cite dead soldiers, its the ability to peacefully protest without sanction that was one of the chief ideals they died for.

    I get that it’s the national team, and it might not be your choice of where to call attention to political/societal issues. But it has proven very effective in calling attention. If Rapinoe thinks its worth it, you can certainly disagree with the venue or with her arguments about the issues, but to monstrously condemn her for a conspicuous display of peaceful political protest is anti-democratic and flies in the face of the longstanding ideals and traditions this country stands for, or ideally should stand for – it is still a work in progress, as evidenced by the harshness of the above condemnation from some fellow citizens. Yall are free to condemn harshly and not watch her any more if you want. But I will unreservedly disagree that her actions are un-American or against any American ideals. I respect her bravery and support her freedom to peacefully protest and call attention to her issues, whether or not I agree with her arguments.

    US Soccer is not a governmental entity and I presume can sanction Rapinoe if it wants, but I believe US Soccer should relax and ignore this sort of thing.

  15. Long time US Soccer Fan says:

    I have been a fan of Megan and her play over the years. She always seemed to bring a spark to the team. I respect her right to express her beliefs, but I don’t think she can have it both ways. It is hypocritical to say you want to represent and compete for your country but kneel in protest against it. If you feel that strongly, you should withdraw from the national team. The pride of being selected to a national team and putting on the jersey should be reserved for those who take pride in our country. Respect your teammates to take your stand in a way that doesn’t take away from the team.

  16. wye says:

    “It is hypocritical to say you want to represent and compete for your country but kneel in protest against it.”

    Here’s where I think the criticism goes off the rails: Rapinoe et al aren’t “protesting against [their country].” They are advocating for a correction of a perceived societal ill they think can and should be corrected, consistent with their country’s values. That doesn’t mean you’re PROTESTING YOUR COUNTRY.

    “The pride of being selected to a national team and putting on the jersey should be reserved for those who take pride in our country.”

    How is it that you believe she is not proud of her country and the ideals it has always stood for? She can be very proud of her country – and consistently with that – join in pointing out what she perceives to be a grave issue that is not in keeping with the best ideals this nation has always represented.

    Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’re the land of the free and the home of the brave? That’s not a statement that Americans are, by default, the freest and bravest people. It’s a question. It has and always will be a recurring question that demands some real self-examination of ourselves individually and as a people, and there have been times in our history when we have been found wanting as to the answer, but we have always eventually come round, and are still coming round and will continue to do so as time marches on. We should always remember that IT’S A QUESTION every time we hear our anthem. Are we still free enough and brave enough people to acknowledge that there are patriots among us who love the idea of this nation as much as we do but who sincerely pose questions as to whether we can better improve our never ending quest to form a more perfect union. Without demonizing them.

    The question of whether these people are choosing the right venue seems banal to me compared to the more profound questions. Your milage may understandably vary on that one, but for me if she’s not disrupting team harmony, there’s nothing there. The team didn’t go stand somewhere else when she knelt. If she surprised them (which we don’t know, I take it) then it will shake out. If the team is ok with it (which I think is the brave response, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with her), then US Soccer should be ok with it. Otherwise if US Soccer is not feeling ok, it is deciding that sport must be totally divorced from the society from which it springs, and any interaction of ideas between the two must be squelched if US Soccer does not approve. Better – and distinctly American – is to let the marketplace of ideas sort it out.

  17. Patriot says:

    They are paid to play soccer as I am paid to do my job. I nor they have any business taking on political issues as they are when performing your job. This is to be done when you enjoy your freedoms at home off the clock and maybe when being interviewed, not when you represent your team, your country, or your company! This dissent has nothing to do with her one job and that is to play soccer not be a political idiot! As Americans we should be appalled by these sport figure actions. It is the responsibility of the management to act upon the insorbdination of their employees and take action. This is what happens in the real world!! You also risk loss of fans and money if you allow this to continue! Look at baseball and how that is no longer Americas Sport. NFL football is not far behind! Soccer is a world sport and we compete on the world stage so support your country at all costs and don’t play into the hands of the world terrorism and liberalism.

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