The four qualities that standout in U.S. Women’s national team player Megan Rapinoe are her abilities to take players on, shield the ball and hold players off, and cross and shoot the ball.
Yes, those are four important and very useful qualities to possess as a soccer player and what makes Rapinoe a very unique and special player.
Rapinoe started out playing for the Univeristy of Portland before moving on to the professional ranks and to eventually staring for the women's national team. It's no wonder though, as she's a player who performs her best in the biggest games and doesn't shy away from a challenge. If you want to learn how to play like her, this is what you need to do:
Take Players On
Rapinoe loves to try to beat players on the dribble as an outside midfielder near the touchline. But what’s smart about Rapinoe is she doesn’t do it unless she’s in the attacking half of the field or one versus one with a defender. In other words, she takes players on at the right time and in the right parts of the field.
Shield the Ball
Next up is her ability to shield the ball. The best players in the world aren’t afraid to hold on to the ball under pressure, and that’s just what Rapinoe does. She can keep the ball despite being closed down or physically pushed and pulled. She’s strong on the ball and doesn’t lose it. If you watched her play against Canada in the Olympic semi-final, you notice how even though she sometimes being kicked or pushed from behind, she held the ball and laid it off to a teammate in a better position.
Whip Those Crosses In
Perhaps Rapinoe’s most famous skill though is her ability to cross the ball. This was most evident during the 2011 World Cup versus Brazil. When it was her cross from just past half field that found the head of teammate Abby Wambach. She can bend the ball into the box at pace, which makes it easier for her teammates to latch on to the ball and score – all they have to do is redirect the ball and don’t have to wait for it.
Rapinoe's Cross to Wambach Versus Brazil
Get Your Head Up & Take Shots
Finally, Rapinoe isn’t afraid to strike the ball from distance or at a bad angle – again this was evident in the game versus Canada, when she scored a rocket of a goal at a tough angle. She’s good at finding a bit of space and firing the ball on goal. This ability and desire to score goals make it easier to then beat players on the dribble or cross the ball. Defenders don’t want her to shoot or score, so they close her down or ending up diving in, which enables her to slip past her defender and get a cross in or pass the ball to a teammate making a run.
Rapinoe's Goal Versus Canada
And she also enjoys heading the ball like a seal. Check it out.