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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SPORTS/RECREATION Megan Rapinoe: Star power
by Ross Forman
2009-06-17

This article shared 15825 times since Wed Jun 17, 2009
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Don't fret over the miserable May endured by the Chicago Red Stars. The team is still a true contender in the new Women's Professional Soccer ( WPS ) League, said forward Megan Rapinoe.

The team lost all three games it played in May, and was shut out in each, too.

I think it was unfortunate," Rapinoe said. "I don't think we played terrible; it's not like we were getting run over by teams. Some of the games could have gone the other way.

"I think it's still pretty early in the season to dwell on [ an 0-3 record in May ] ."

All three May games were home matches, played at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. Five of the team's six games in June are on the road. The Red Stars play host to the Boston Breakers on Sunday, June 21.

Rapinoe ( pronounced rah-PEE-no ) , has one of the team's seven goals as of this article's writing, and is second on the team with 16 shots.

"I've been playing well this season," she said. "It's an adjustment playing for a new coach, with new teammates. But I'm feeling more comfortable and more confident.

"I feel good about the team going forward. I think we realize that we've been in games; it's not like we're getting blown out. I think we've been unlucky to not have scored in some games, but I still think we're very confident. I still think we have one of the best teams in the league, at least on paper. It's taken a little longer than we had hoped for our on-field chemistry to gel. I think we have an unbelievable group."

Rapinoe, 23, was selected by the Red Stars in the first round of the WPS general draft ( second overall ) . She has been a member of the U.S. Women's National Team since 2006. She scored game-winning goal in 2009 Algarve Cup semifinal win over Norway and had the assist on the lone U.S. goal in the final.

"I play hard; I think I'm exciting to watch; I play with a lot of passion; I put it all out there," she said. "I like to play as hard, and as beautifully, as possible. Hopefully I can score a few [ more ] goals and get the fans excited.

"I think one of my biggest attributes is something I enjoy doing: going at players. I like to get the ball at my feet, dribble at players. I know I then can pass or go around a defender. And I think that one-on-one battle is exciting for the fans to watch.

A native of Redding, Calif., Rapinoe played at the University of Portland, where she was named West Coast Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 2008. She started all 22 games her senior year, scoring five goals and adding 13 assists.

"I didn't have too many expectations going into the season because I had no idea what the team or the league was going to be like, but it's really been good," she said. "Even though we haven't had the start that we want to, but being a pro, in that environment, is so much fun; it's been great. Chicago is an absolutely wonderful city."

So what do you like about Chicago?

Everything, she said without hesitation. The food, the people, the night life, the positive energy, shopping, parks, the music scene, museums, etc.

But Rapinoe is not a fan of the wind off Lake Michigan.

Away from soccer, Rapinoe enjoys playing the guitar and recently purchased a keyboard, although she doesn't know how to play it. She enjoys eople-watching and relaxing with the girls as well.

Rapinoe is among the most popular Red Stars among the lesbian community, and she's happy about that.

"I think that's a good thing," she said. "I think we need to bring people of all different walks of life into the game. I definitely think there's a place within the Red Stars organization for everyone.

"I want to make people feel like, when they go watch [ the ] team, that there is someone that there's someone like them on the team, and that we're not all the same on the team, that there is diversity. I think that's a good thing for the sport and our team in general."

Rapinoe is convinced the Red Stars and the league as a whole are open to diversity.

"Undeniably, there are lesbians in the league, with all of the different clubs, though I have not seen a lot [ of them ] ; gays and lesbians are everywhere in our society," Rapinoe said. "I know that our team has reached out to the gay and lesbian community, and I think that's important. I think there's a pretty good potential for a good fan base within that community."

Windy City Times is one of the sponsors of the Red Stars, and Rapinoe said the cross-promotion "is a great thing." Throughout the season, Windy City Media Group is doing promotions for the games and will be doing a special benefit for Lesbian Community Care Project at one home game.

The Red Stars play their final regular-season home game against Los Angeles Aug. 2. The WPS finals will be played Aug. 22. And then Rapinoe will return to Portland, Ore., she said.

"It's just a bit too cold to be in Chicago in the winter; you can't train in that weather," Rapinoe said, laughing.


This article shared 15825 times since Wed Jun 17, 2009
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