The red-hot U.S. women’s national soccer team faces off against England Tuesday in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup, but outspoken co-captain and newfound internet hero Megan Rapinoe won’t be on the field to start the match.
A U.S. soccer spokesman would not say why Rapinoe — who has scored all four U.S. goals during the last two games — won’t be in the starting lineup, other than telling reporters it was “not a disciplinary decision.” Rapinoe is listed as a bench player, which means she could enter Tuesday’s game at some point if she’s healthy enough to play.
Rapinoe scored two goals against France on Friday following a back-and-forth with President Donald Trump over whether she and her teammates would be welcome at the White House should the United States go on to win their fourth World Cup. She also became a popular internet meme thanks to the pink-haired star’s power pose following her second goal.
“You’re sort-of on the stage, so I guess I’m looking at myself as a performer and trying to entertain,” Rapinoe said on Good Morning America on Monday. “It’s kind-of funny, playful pose, and we’re always looking for good celebrations so this one stuck a little bit more than the other ones.”
Rapinoe and teammates Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd are certainly winning over fans in droves. Friday’s win over France averaged 6.12 million viewers on Fox, making it the fifth-most-watched Women’s World Cup match on record. As AdAge’s Anthony Crupi pointed out on Twitter, the match drew a larger television audience than 80 percent of NBA playoff games this season, including three of the six Eastern Conference Finals broadcasts on TNT. It also averaged a record-setting 211,000 streaming viewers, due largely to its 3 p.m. start time.
Fans are also showing their support for the three-time World Cup champs via their wallets. Rapinoe’s jersey is the top selling jersey so far during the World Cup, according to Fanatics. And the U.S. women’s team is the top-selling soccer jersey — men’s or women’s — ever sold on Nike.com in one season, according to Heidi Burgett, Nike’s senior director of global communications.
And as my colleague Jonathan Tannenwald pointed out, as the U.S. women’s team plays to sold-out arenas across France, fans aren’t exactly responding the same way here at home for their male counterparts, who are currently competing in the Concacaf Gold Cup (attendance at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday for the U.S. men’s quarterfinal win over Curacao was just 26,233).
When: Tuesday, July 2
Where: Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Décines-Charpieu, France
Time: 3 p.m. Eastern
TV: Fox (JP Dellacamera, Aly Wagner), Telemundo (Copán Álvarez, Viviana Vila), NBCSN (Telemundo simulcast)
Streaming: Fox Sports Go app (requires cable authentication), FuboTV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu + Live TV, SlingTV (all require a subscription)
Fox’s pregame coverage begins at 2 p.m. with a one-hour edition of FIFA Women’s World Cup Live, hosted by Rob Stone and Jenny Taft alongside studio analysts including Heather O’Reilly, Kelly Smith, Ari Hingst, Eni Aluko, and Alexi Lalas. Both Stone and Taft will return to host the hour-long FIFA Women’s World Cup Today after the match.
Fox Soccer Tonight, a mix of highlights and analysis of both the Women’s World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, will air at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning on FS1, hosted by Kate Abdo alongside analysts and former U.S. stars Christie Rampone and Landon Donovan.
Here’s how the U.S. women’s team ended up in Tuesday’s semifinal matchup against England. The winner of the U.S.-England game will advance to the World Cup final and face off against the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal matchup between Sweden and the Netherlands, which begins at 3 p.m. Eastern on FS1.
June 28: U.S. 2, France 1
June 24: U.S. 2, Spain 1
June 20: U.S. 2, Sweden 0
June 16: U.S. 3, Chile 0