Next Thursday, the USA will face Jamaica in its second match at the Concacaf W Championship in Monterrey, Mexico. if all goes as planned, the USA will clinch a berth in the 2023 Women's World Cup with a win.
Megan Rapinoe, not expected to be a starter for the USA, won't be there to celebrate.
She will be at the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor “presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.”
Rapinoe, who turns 37 on Tuesday, will be the first soccer player and one of just six female athletes or coaches to be so honored along fellow 2022 recipient Simone Biles, the Olympic gold medal gymnast, tennis player and women’s rights pioneer Billie Jean King, 1932 Summer Olympics track and field gold medalist and professional golfer Babe Didrikson Zaharias, women’s basketball legend Pat Summitt and professional golfer Annika Sorenstam.
Presidential Medal of Freedom: 2022 recipients
Rapinoe, who famously feuded with former president Donald Trump, was invited by Biden to the White House for an event in 2021 proclaiming March 24 as National Equal Pay Day.
She said in a statement she "was, and still am, totally overwhelmed" when she received a phone call last week from President Joe Biden, who informed her of the award.
“I just see this as a validation of all the things that I have stood for," she said in a media call on Friday, "not a validation for me, but it’s a validation of LGBTQIA+ rights, it’s a validation of the Black Lives Matter movement and a movement against the white supremacist power structure that we had, it’s a validation of women’s rights and of equal pay and of abortion rights and of trans rights, and everything that myself and so many others work so hard for. It’s a validation of all of that."