Megan Rapinoe’s inclusion in the United States women’s national team’s 18-player Olympic roster comes at the expense of fellow veteran midfielder Heather O’Reilly.
That was increasingly the reality over the past few months as Rapinoe worked toward recovering from tearing her ACL on Dec. 4. And on Tuesday, the announcement of Jill Ellis’ roster confirmed that Rapinoe would be included in the roster and O’Reilly would be one of the four alternates, traveling to Brazil but not officially on the roster.
It isn’t an easy reality to deal with for anyone, but O’Reilly has long been a team-first player, and her message on social media following the announcement only furthered that notion:
“First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to all my teammates who were chosen to represent the U.S. on the 2016 Olympic Team,” O’Reilly wrote. “While I am incredibly disappointed to not be on the roster of 18 players for Rio, I am also proud. I am proud that I competed and that I truly went for it. I am proud that I bring my unique qualities to the table every day.”
First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to all my teammates who were chosen to represent the U.S. on the 2016 Olympic Team. While I am incredibly disappointed to not be on the roster of 18 players for Rio, I am also proud. I am proud that I competed and that I truly went for it. I am proud that I bring my unique qualities to the table every day. This team deserves that. This country deserves that! In the 230 games that I have played for the USWNT so far, I have done it with my whole heart, with every ounce of me, regardless of the role, to help us win. Whether I was a starter, or a substitute, or even the times that I did not see the field. At the end of the day, I love this team, and I love representing all of you. The U.S. Women's National Team is special and it is an honor to be part of it. And next month, I will travel to Rio with the team as an alternate. Once again, whatever I need to do to help the U.S. win, I will do with my whole heart. And of course, I will be ready to go if called on. Now, let's go win gold! #roadtorio #uswnt
Ellis said on Tuesday that O’Reilly was “the utmost professional” in her handling of the news.
“These players, you don’t know that they want to be alternates,” Ellis said Tuesday. “You hope they do, but with Heather I said, ‘Are you prepared for this role?’ And she said, ‘For sure. Of course.’ It was a phenomenal response.
“So that part was tough. I think we just added a lot more depth in that position. It became a lot more competitive with Mal’s emergence and Dunn, two players that weren’t even in the mix last year. Tobin’s form, Rapinoe being (healthier) — I think it’s the hardest position to make on our team. Press can even play wide. So, she had a tough job and she gave everything she had. She’s extraordinary; she hunted it down until the very last day.
“Obviously, I know HAO is disappointed that she is not going to be in the 18, but I know that she is going to help us be successful down there.”
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