Rapinoe knee overshadows O'Reilly farewell buildup

Heather O'Reilly is arguably the most decorated player ever in the history of U.S. women's soccer -- the only player who has won Women's World Cup, Olympics, U-20 Women's World Cup, WPS, NWSL and NCAA titles -- and surely one of the most popular, but her farewell game against Thailand Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, has been overshadowed by attention to whether Megan Rapinoe will continue her protest by kneeling for the national anthem.

Heather O'Reilly: 'It just feels like the right time'

The local daily Columbus Dispatch presented a long preview on Thursday's game without ever mentioning O'Reilly. The story centered around Rapinoe's stance, which the Dispatch noted will draw as much scrutiny as how the USA plays in its first post-Olympics game against Thailand.

Rapinoe kneeled in support of the example of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick before the Seattle Reign's NWSL game at Chicago, never had a chance to kneel against the Washington Spirit because the Spirit owner Bill Lynch switched things up and had the national anthem played before the teams entered the field, and she stood arm-in-arm with her Reign players before their home game against Washington on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Rapinoe told reporters on Wednesday she was undecided about whether she will kneeling for the national anthem before the USA-Thailand game.

“It’s a very complex issue that needs to be looked at holistically,” she said. “It’s not just one person doing something wrong or one side doing something wrong. Systematic oppression and racism and racial injustice in this country is what I’d like to talk about and that’s obviously very broad and multifaceted and nuanced and difficult, but I think any conversation about it is better than none.”

U.S. women's national team coach Jill Ellis said she supported Rapinoe's willingness to speak out about issues but expected players to stand for the national anthem.

"Me, personally, in this environment for a national team, I don't disassociate playing for your country," Ellis said on Wednesday. "I think that's a part of a national symbol. So in terms of standing for a national anthem, I think that's an expectation of a national team player."

ROSTER UPDATE. Only 19 players are on the U.S. roster for the Thailand game at MAPFRE Stadium. That's the 22 Olympians and alternates minus suspended Hope Solo, as well as Morgan Brian and Mallory Pugh.

Brian is out after displaying concussion-like symptoms following an elbow to the head in the Houston Dash’s NWSL match against the Boston Breakers on Sunday evening.

Pugh is with the U.S. U-20s, who tied South Korea, 0-0, on Wednesday night in the first game of the U-20 Women’s NTC Invitational, as she continues her recovery from an ankle injury suffered during the Olympics.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), 22-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride)
DEFENDERS (7): 6-Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), 8-Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), 7-Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City, 21-Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), 19-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), 10-Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), 3-Allie Long (Portland Thorns), 20-Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), 9-Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)
FORWARDS (3): 16-Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), 12-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars)
13 comments about "Rapinoe knee overshadows O'Reilly farewell buildup".
  1. C Stephans, September 15, 2016 at 7:56 a.m.

    As much as I love Natl team soccer, I won't watch the game to see whether a self-serving player kneels and disrespects our country for which she has played and made a name for herself. Any player who cannot stand for the country she plays for, should not have the option in my opinion.

  2. Guy Walling, September 15, 2016 at 8:40 a.m.

    If you can't respect your own national anthem then you don't respect your country and as a result I question how she can give 100% on the field for her national team. As a national team coach, I think I would be worried about that. It's an honor to serve your country either in the olympics, World Cup, or even in the military and if a person can't respect that then they shouldn't play for your country. It is a discrace to show the world that that you are not proud of where you live and it tells other national players of other countries that are they just beat you psychologically and if you get into your opponents head before a big game or even World Cup matches, the opponent will have the advantage. I am surprised the WNT coaches do not recognize this as a potential problem in preparing the team's moral for important matches. Would you want to go to war with a group of soldiers that are sitting down protesting before battle? I certainly would not. In fact, I would be scared shitless that they wouldn't have my back. This might be an extreme analogy buy, just think what this behavior is doing to her teammates. The people she should care most about. I say get her off the field until she can clear her differences!

  3. Albert Harris, September 15, 2016 at 10:05 a.m.

    Extreme pretty well describes it, Guy. Why don't we wait until something actually happens before we jump to conclusions. Playing for your national team is different than playing for your club team and may change her behavior. If not, then you may express whatever opinion you like as guaranteed under the constitution. As may Ms. Rapinoe.

  4. Joe Linzner, September 15, 2016 at 11:06 a.m.

    The problem with any sort of such a protest is a misplaced sense of blame. The Flag and National Anthem represent the United States, it's Constitution. Showing disrespect because of real or supposed prejudice within the country as allegedly practiced by its citizenry, is misplaced fealty. It is people who must be castigated for this prejudice, not the symbol of a Nation which allows these individuals to express their misplaced outrage. There are many ways to protest but showing disrespect to the symbol of our Nation is simply misdirected.

  5. Karl Schreiber, September 15, 2016 at 11:16 p.m.

    To the Rapinoes and every other athlete in the U.S.: You MUST follow the regulations for general conduct in every respect and when an official event includes the presentation of colors and / or the national anthem, you must act as a member of the team as well as the organization it is affiliated with and follow its regulations for conduct. As such, you do not have the right for staging a personal act of any nature when you perform for a national team, period.

    USSF has re-stated its expectations that players must stand. Rapinoe has a chance to comply, at the match against the Netherlands. If she does not, she should be fired.

  6. Kent Pothast, September 15, 2016 at 11:39 p.m.

    I supported Rapinoe at University of Portland and the school before and after. I cheered her with National Team. I couldn't care less about her sexual orientation. She could have chosen a different venue for her protests. I will buy no product from a company that she endorses. I wonder if she will have the guts to show up at University of Portland's banquet honoring the 2005 NCAA National Championship team

  7. Joesph Johnson, September 15, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

    You guys should know that conformity to so social norms and making people feel comfortable is not on Rapinoe's agenda. You might not find her protest righteous or appropriate(what good protest is seen as socially appropriate at the time, come on) but she has a right to do it and it is totally in line with her core values. There is nothing more American than protest for change. Thomas Paine is probably rolling in his grave right now with all the conformist moaning about a young and spirited women doing what Americans have always done. Raising hell! Don't like it? Get out there and counter-protest or even boycott USSoccer or her sponsors but you can't tell her to stop it because that is hypocrisy and no soldiers fighting modern wars died to giver her a damned thing and you know it.

  8. David V, September 16, 2016 at 12:51 a.m.

    Heather O'Reilly!!!!!! Lost in the discussion. Joseph, you just told people they can't do something (you said they can't tell her to stop), but you just argued against them for them telling her not to do something...you mean you get to tell others not to do something, but they don't get to? that's hypocrisy! Inconsistency! Can you say "non sequitur"?

  9. James e Chandler, September 16, 2016 at 10 a.m.

    IF she does it again, direct the officials to book her.

  10. David V, September 16, 2016 at 1:28 p.m.

    Get her off the team

  11. Goal Goal, September 16, 2016 at 7:54 p.m.

    Who would even know who she is if US SOCCER hadn't given her a platform and then she kicked them in the face. What a mess. If she thinks life is tough for people in this country she should pack her bags and head for that perfect place. When she gets there she should let everyone know where that is. Don't let the door hit her in her rear end.

  12. Goal Goal, September 18, 2016 at 11:03 p.m.

    All American you lost me. I didn't assume what you are or who you are. The race card is used by many as a crutch. What I do assume is both you and Rapi are ill informed. Your view on Rapi has nothing to do with soccer and her actions have nothing to do with soccer so why make it part of soccer. I believe you are the one that brought up "black oppression ".

  13. Goal Goal, September 19, 2016 at 10:07 a.m.

    I can't even believe you would mention the Holocaust in this discussion. You are talking oranges and apples. Here I am talking about loyalty. plain and simple. No racism against anyone. I sincerely hope you get by your problem

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