The United States women’s soccer team is playing its biggest game in years, and it will do so without its heart-and-soul player — at least to start the game.
Roughly an hour before Team USA’s World Cup semifinal showdown with England, it was revealed Megan Rapinoe wouldn’t be in the starting lineup with a trip to the final on the line.
Rapinoe has been sensational to this point in the tournament, scoring a pair of goals in each of the Americans’ two knockout stage wins to this point. Christen Press will start in Rapinoe’s place in the starting 11.
The decision was met with, well, not much excitement from US soccer fans.
So, what gives? According to reports, there’s been no mention of an injury, and the decision from head coach Jill Ellis isn’t disciplinary. Instead, this decision appears to be strictly tactical.
It’s a risky decision, but if it pays off, Ellis will look like a genius.
UPDATE (2:35 p.m. ET): USA soccer legend Julie Foudy isn’t buying the “tactical” decision.
Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl added more context to the injury talk, and while Rapinoe was on the field for warmups, she didn’t go through drills and could be seen standing on the sideline.