Soccer

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

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USATSI

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. 

Watch Harry Maguire wrongly avoid red card, seal Manchester United win

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Premier League

Watch Harry Maguire wrongly avoid red card, seal Manchester United win

Harry Maguire shouldn't have been on the pitch to score Monday, but the Manchester United defender made the race for UEFA Champions League qualification much more interesting regardless. 

Maguire's 66th-minute header, his first Premier League goal for Manchester United, controversially doubled the Red Devils' lead in a 2-0 win over fourth-place Chelsea. 

But the 26-year-old should have been sent off 45 minutes prior. 

Maguire kicked out at Michy Batshuayi in the 21st minute after a clearance. It looked remarkably similar to a kick that got Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min sent off against Chelsea last month, but a VAR check ruled Maguire's kick wasn't violent conduct constituting a red card. 

VAR made Chelsea supporters even angrier about 10 minutes prior to Maguire's header. Kurt Zouma equalized for Chelsea on a set piece, but the video assistant overturned the goal after determining César Azpilicueta fouled United's Brandon Williams. Azpilicueta appeared to be pushed into Williams, but Zouma's equalizer was wiped away regardless. 

Olivier Giroud seemingly pulled one back for Chelsea in the 77th minute, but VAR once again disallowed a Chelsea goal. This time, the decision was correct. 

United's win adds plenty of intrigue to a suddenly competitive race for Champions League places. Second-place Manchester City's two-year ban from European competition, if upheld, would allow the Premier League's fifth-place team to qualify for the Champions League and reap the ensuing financial rewards. 

[RELATED: Check out more Premier League coverage from Sky Sports]

Only seven points separate Chelsea and 11th-place Burnley, and seventh-place Manchester United only are three back of Chelsea. The Red Devils are just two points back of Spurs in fifth place, too.

They can thank Maguire for that, even if he shouldn't been in a position to help them. 

Chelsea-Manchester United live stream: How to watch EPL game online, on TV

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AP

Chelsea-Manchester United live stream: How to watch EPL game online, on TV

The pressure is on Chelsea (12-5-8; 41 points).

The fourth-place Blues are only a point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur (and former manager José Mourinho) in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification. Chelsea are winless in their last three matches, and dropped points Monday against Manchester United (9-8-8; 35 points) at Stamford Bridge would set up a scintillating showdown between the London rivals next Saturday.

A win would rob Mourinho of his desired drama, however, and the Blues would have some much-needed separation between them and their closest rivals. 

Manchester City's Champions League ban could ultimately make it a moot point, but United now have an opportunity thanks to their cross-town rivals. Manchester United are five points back of Spurs (and six back of Chelsea), so an away win would go a long way towards ensuring a legitimate race for the final Champions League spot down the stretch. United haven't won a Premier League match away from home this decade (they beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor on Dec. 28, 2019), and the Red Devils will need to find their form fast. 

[RELATED: Check out more Premier League coverage from Sky Sports

Here's how to watch Monday's Chelsea-Manchester United match online and on TV. 

When: Monday, Feb. 17 at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports