The OL Reign beat Angel City FC 1-0 on Saturday evening in NWSL action to move into a playoff position, but that was only one of the storylines to emerge from the match.
In the 72nd minute, Reign winger Megan Rapinoe was sent off for a second yellow card, earned for dissent while walking off the pitch after being substituted.
Notably, it is the first red card of Rapinoe’s decorated professional career, the first time she has been dismissed in over 350 professional matches for club and country.
Rapinoe has 187 caps for the U.S. women’s national team, which ranks 15th all-time for the United States. Her 62 international goals are 10th most all-time for her country.
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Why was Megan Rapinoe red carded?
Rapinoe was handed a second booking by referee Karen Callado, having clearly been unhappy with the officiating throughout the match.
Bethany Balcer, who had scored the game’s only goal in the first half, was injured in a tackle midway through the second half.
Substituted in the 72nd minute just after Balcer’s injury, Rapinoe, walking off the pitch, had words with the official expressing her belief that player safety was compromised by the officiating, potentially leading to Balcer’s injury.
“I felt it was a consistent theme throughout the game that both benches, both sets of players, were concerned about the safety of their teammates,” OL Reign coach Laura Harvey said in the post-match press conference, also confirming that Rapinoe’s words were about the officiating and were the cause of her sending off.
This was not confirmed by the player after the match, but the issue Rapinoe took seems to have been brewing for longer than just 72 minutes at Lumen Field. The game featured 29 fouls and eight yellow cards, but the sending off of Rapinoe for dissent was the first red card issued across the entire NWSL season thus far, with 50 games having been played. NWSL matches this year have averaged 21.5 fouls and 2.7 yellow cards.
The OL Reign were not reduced to 10 players after the red card, since it came after Rapinoe was subbed off for Reign’s super-sub Tziarra King. Rapinoe will now miss the next club match, which comes July 1 at home against the North Carolina Courage, who sit bottom of the 12-team league table.
Laura Harvey confirms that Megan Rapinoe was given her second yellow for something she said to the ref regarding Bethany Balcer’s injury/safety #RGNvLA
— Bella Valeriano Munson (@munson_bella) June 19, 2022
How many red cards has Megan Rapinoe received?
Across her entire club and international career, this is the first sending-off that Megan Rapinoe has ever earned in her 363 career matches, according to Paul Kennedy of Soccer America.
Megan Rapinoe gets red card for dissent (second yellow) from bench in 2nd half of @OLReign match with @weareangelcity (1st game she’s started in 2022). First red card in 176 games over 14 seasons with 6 teams in 4 leagues. She’s never been ejected in 187 #USWNT matches.
— Paul Kennedy (@pkedit) June 19, 2022
FBRef, which has been keeping women’s data for the national team since 2011 and for the club side since 2013, lists that Rapinoe has earned 13 yellow cards across the 94 club matches it has logged, while receiving seven yellow cards across the 69 USWNT games in its records. That’s 20 yellow cards across 163 matches, an average of one yellow card just over every eight games.
Rapinoe has never been sent off in her 183 international caps for the U.S. women, without even a single yellow card for the national team since the 2020 Olympics.
When will Rapinoe play next for the USWNT?
Rapinoe, now 36 years old, has barely featured for the OL Reign this season. Her match on Saturday was her first start of the season, having earned just 155 minutes thus far, all off the bench.
Still, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski included Rapinoe on the roster for this summer’s CONCACAF W Championship, her first appearance on the list since October.
It was a surprising inclusion, since Andonovski confirmed that other veteran players like Christen Press, who have earned far more playing time at the club level this season, were not included on the roster due to competition at the forward position. Press subsequently tore her ACL before the USWNT roster release, but Andonovski stated that she was set to be left off the roster even prior to the injury.
Oddly, in the process of stating that Rapinoe will see the field this summer and is on the roster for more than just veteran leadership, Andonovski also added that Rapinoe’s appearance on the summer USWNT roster was something agreed to as far back as last year.
“Megan and I had a great conversation after the season last year and she understood the process that we were going to go through,” Andonovski said on a conference call following the roster release.
“Within the conversation, she understood that we are going to bring a lot of players, we are going to test a lot of players, we want to give the young players lots of minutes and opportunities to play, and give us a chance to evaluate them as much as possible. But after everything is said and done, if she’s healthy, and if she’s fit to get minutes, she will be on the roster.”
Also included on the USWNT roster this summer is Alex Morgan, another veteran great who has been on the periphery thus far through 2022.