All Megan Rapinoe could do was watch.
She believes she would have made a difference.
Rapinoe was not in the starting lineup for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 1-1 draw against the Netherlands in its second group-stage match, and was not used as a substitute.
“I think I could’ve helped,” Rapinoe told reporters ahead of the team’s third and final group-stage game against Portugal.
Manager Vlatko Andonovski made just one change against the Netherlands, replacing Savannah DeMelo with Rose Lavelle at midfield at halftime.
That decision quickly paid dividends, as Lavelle provided the game-tying assist in the 62nd minute.
But Andonovski opted against making any other changes during the the second half despite having ample attacking options on the bench – none with a better resume than Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot and was the joint top-scorer at the 2019 World Cup.
“All of us on the bench, we think we should be on the field as much as players on the field think they should be on the field,” Rapinoe said. “Every player on the field that starts the game thinks they should play 90 minutes, and every player who doesn’t, who’s a sub, thinks that they should be on at some point.
“We’re always ready,” she added. “We know at some point during this tournament, obviously, the bench will be huge. That’s a huge asset of ours, a huge reason why we’ve been so successful with this group [and] obviously historically, winning championships in our past.”
Now 38, the polarizing Rapinoe has a much smaller role than she did during the previous three World Cups she starred in, leading the USWNT to back-to-back titles in the last two tournaments.
She said she respected Andonovski’s decision.
Andonovski defended his lack of changes by what he was seeing on the field.
“We were around the goal the whole time and I just didn’t want to disrupt the rhythm at that point because sometimes a substitute comes in and it might take a minute or two to get into a rhythm,” Andonovski said after the game.
“We just didn’t want to jeopardize anything because I thought all three of our forwards were very good today, dangerous, created opportunities and were a handful.”