Is Megan Rapinoe the GOAT of women’s soccer?
The two-time World Cup winner is one of the most celebrated members of the all-conquering USWNT team, but is she regarded as the greatest of all time?
Megan Rapinoe’s glittering career will come to a close on Sunday when the United States Women’s National Team take on South Africa.
The 38-year-old has spent 17 years with USWNT and delivered countless titles for both club and country. She played a key role in the all-conquering USWNT team that won two Women’s World Cups and and an Olympic gold medal, as well as being one of the most recognisable and influential figures in the women’s game.
Her career is unlike that of almost any other athlete, but where does she rank in conversations about the greatest female soccer player of all time?
Megan Rapinoe’s claim to be the GOAT
Rapinoe’s career has been defined by her successes at international level and she was an important part of one of the best women’s soccer teams of all time. But when she made her debut for the national team in 2006 the US national team was in a very different place.
They had been expected to retain their Women’s World Cup title in 2003 as hosts, but were beaten 3-0 in the semi-final by eventual winners Germany. They fell at the same stage again in 2007, a tournament that Rapinoe missed due to injury.
Rapinoe was fit to play in the following tournament in 2011 as USWNT came tantalisingly close to their first World Cup triumph since 1999. She played in all six games but the United States lost on penalties in the final. That defeat was to prove the catalyst for an incredible period of domination for the team, with Rapinoe playing a central role.
USWNT picked up an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and went on to win the World Cup in 2015 and 2019.
The second of those triumphs was the peak of Rapinoe’s incredible career as she was picked up the tournament’s Golden Ball award for best player and the Golden Boot for top scorer. She scored her sixth goal of the tournament in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final, becoming the oldest player to score in a Women’s World Cup final. Rapinoe was later awarded the Ballon d’Or Féminin and The Best FIFA Women’s Player awards for her performances in 2019.
Since 2012 she has played her club soccer for OL Reign, with whom she won NWSL Shield in 2014, 2015, 2022 and The Women’s Cup in 2022.
Is Marta the women’s soccer GOAT?
Megan Rapinoe has had an incredible career at the very top of the game, but for many observers she falls just short of the status of GOAT. It is broadly agreed that the great female soccer player of all time is Marta.
The Brazilian legend, now 37, is still playing for Orlando Pride and the Brazil women’s national team and has an incredible collection of personal honours.
She has won FIFA’s award for Best Women’s Player a record six times, twice as many as any other female player. She was named IFFHS World’s Best Woman Player of the Decade in 2020 and holds the record for the most goals at the World Cup (17).
She has won countless titles in Brazil, Sweden and the United States and continues to be a regular starter more than two decades after making her debut. Even Rapinoe is in awe of the Brazilian’s incredible career: “Marta is literally so much better than all of us at any time. She is so much better than everyone.”