Soccer

Why USWNT's Megan Rapinoe sees Donald Trump Twitter feud as positive

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Why USWNT's Megan Rapinoe sees Donald Trump Twitter feud as positive

United States Women's National Team star Megan Rapinoe's name dominated headlines around the world during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, and not just because of her award-winning performance.

After a video circulated late last month of the 34-year-old saying she wouldn't go "to the f--king White House" if the USWNT lifted the trophy in France, President Donald Trump scolded Rapinoe in a series of tweets. He tweeted that Rapinoe should "[win] first before she [talks]," and the winger proceeded to score three more goals at the tournament en route to winning every possible individual and team award in front of her.

Rapinoe was the tournament's highest scorer (Golden Boot) with six goals, named its best player (Golden Ball) and won her second consecutive World Cup title. 

"Yeah, I held up my end of the bargain on that one," Rapinoe told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap on Tuesday. "I mean, honestly, I see [the Twitter exchange] as a positive thing. I think when it was happening, we did keep a really tight bubble and the whole group was so supportive of me but it did feel positive, in a way. Obviously, I think the tweets were negative in tone as he usually does, but I think we just even moreso in that moment realized we're so much more than what we are on the field. And I think this team really understands, and is so prideful that we do carry with us other people when we step out on the pitch.

"It's the game of course, and we wanna win. But knowing the impact we have already had, and knowing the impact we were gonna have when we came home, the motivation of just that alone is incredible, and I really feel like we do this for our group ... and for everyone."

Rapinoe, who is openly gay, has long been an advocate for social change. In 2016, she became the first white athlete to kneel during the playing of the national anthem in solidarity with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of racial inequality and police brutality in the United States. She also kneeled while wearing a national team uniform, prompting U.S. Soccer to institute Policy 604-1 which mandates players "representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented."

Along with 27 other USWNT players, Rapinoe is a plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing U.S. Soccer of "institutionalized gender discrimination" in how they have been paid and treated compared to the men's national team. Last month, the two sides agreed to mediation but Rapinoe remained critical of how global soccer body FIFA treats women players, noting that president Gianni Infantino's pledge to double the women's World Cup prize pool money would still leave a large gap with the men. 

Above all else, Rapinoe says she and her teammates value inclusivity. 

[RELATED: Watch USWNT celebrate in return to America after World Cup victory]

"I think that we always want to try to bring more people into the conversation," Rapinoe continued. "We want to have the conversation. We want to open it up to everyone. I think, obviously, we are very lucky to wear the shirt and represent America in a way no team really does. We're very lucky. We play all kinds of games all year long, and I think that we do an incredible job of representing every American."

Rapinoe and the rest of the USWNT will celebrate their second consecutive World Cup crown with a parade Wednesday in New York City. 

Pep Guardiola oddly defiant after Manchester City loss to Liverpool FC

Pep Guardiola oddly defiant after Manchester City loss to Liverpool FC

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola seemed primed to go off Sunday.

His squad lost 3-1 to English Premier League-leading Liverpool at Anfield, and the reigning champions fell behind early following a disputed decision.

Bernardo Silva's pass intended for Raheem Sterling in the box instead hit Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold's outstretched arm, leading to the Reds' counter-attack that Fabinho capitalized on with an outside-the-box screamer.

Guardiola took issue with the call, and another handball much later in the match. Both appeared to be on his mind when he, uh, passionately thanked the referees after the match.

But the Spaniard insisted during his post-match interview with Sky Sports that he was not being sarcastic with the officials.

"No way," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "I congratulated them. I'm so polite. I didn't say anything here [either]."

Indeed, in Guardiola's interview and post-match press conference with reporters, he didn't take the bait when asked about Alexander-Arnold's handball, which VAR subsequently upheld as not a foul on a check of the goal. Guardiola told Sky Sports to "ask the referees" about the decisions and instead focused on his own team's performance.

"We tried to do our job," Guardiola said. "I would like to talk about our performance, it was so good. So, I know when teams come here and the way they play [with respect for] Anfield, and from the opening, with the problems we have in the squad, the way we played was awesome. One of the best performances we have played. We played in the way, the reason we are back-to-back champions. That is the point.

"At the end, there's still seven months, and if Liverpool win, I will be the first to congratulate them because we cannot deny how good they are."

Guardiola's side trailed 2-0 at halftime, despite controlling possession and out-shooting Liverpool in the first half. But the Reds were clinical, scoring on each of their first two shots of the match. 

Liverpool's first-half performance reminded Guardiola of Manchester City's UEFA Champions League quarterfinal loss at Anfield two seasons ago, when the Cityzens dug a 3-0 first-half hole in the first leg at Anfield. Guardiola was happier with his squad Sunday, pointing to City's various injuries as Leroy Sané, Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko all have missed significant time this season.

"What happened today, we showed why we are the champions," Guardiola said. "In this stadium, the way we played was incredible. So, I'm so proud of my team more than ever. [An] incredible performance in this stadium against the strongest team in Europe, and the way we played ... I am so proud. So proud. We played so good."

[RELATED: USMNT star Pulisic scores again for Chelsea but injures hip]

Perhaps Guardiola was just trying to be positive following some very visible outbursts, and the frustration stemming from both calls -- or, lack thereof, if you're a City supporter -- is understandable. But as strong as City looked, Guardiola's comments ring of moral victories and are oddly defeatist, especially considering where he and the club stand in global soccer's pecking order.

Guardiola arguably is the greatest club manager of all time, and oil money-backed City has the kind of financial might that only a handful of clubs in the world can match, let alone exceed. City trails Liverpool by nine points in the Premier League table, but don't mistake them for underdogs.

Watch Liverpool FC's Fabinho, Mo Salah score early vs. Manchester City

Watch Liverpool FC's Fabinho, Mo Salah score early vs. Manchester City

In the English Premier League's biggest match of the season to date, Liverpool FC got on the front foot early in a 3-1 win over Manchester City. 

The league leaders led 2-0 within the first 15 minutes Sunday at Anfield, thanks to Fabinho's sixth-minute screamer from outside the box and Mo Salah's 13th-minute header.  

Liverpool opened the scoring while Manchester City was slow to defend the Reds' counter-attack, disputing the referee's decision to not award a handball on Trent Alexander-Arnold. City controlled the early portions of the match, and Bernardo Silva's pass in the box hit Alexander-Arnold's outstretched arm with City attacker Raheem Sterling running in behind. 

The Premier League's rule changes reflecting the International Football Association Board's "Laws of the Game" this summer called for a foul when a player has made their body "unnaturally bigger," but the referee appeared to determine that Alexander-Arnold's outstretched arm was natural.

Alexander-Arnold surely earned himself additional ire from the City faithful with his wonderfully weighted pass on Liverpool's second goal. The right back switched the ball to left back Andy Robertson, whose subsequent cross to Salah left the ball on a platter for the Egyptian striker's run. 

[RELATED: Why Steve Kerr admires Jurgen Klopp's passion, joy]

Liverpool's offense runs through their flanks, as Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have been the Premier League's most productive passers this calendar year.

You'd have to go back to April 2017 to see the last time Liverpool lost at Anfield, and that streak continued Sunday. Sadio Mané put the game out of reach with a 51st-minute goal, but Liverpool's two quick goals ultimately proved to be too much for City.