Disgraced USWNT player Megan Rapinoe has been spotted out and about for the first time since bowing out of the Women’s World Cup under a cloud of scandal.
The 38-year-old midfielder returned in New York City – where she recently purchased an apartment with fiancée Sue Bird – after her missed penalty kick on August 6 resulted in the US national team’s shocking round of 16 elimination in Melbourne.
The disappointing loss marked the last act of Rapinoe’s international career, but exclusive DailyMail.com photos show the soccer player is now moving on from the gaffe as she enters retirement in the Big Apple.
The athlete was snapped stepping out with a female friend in her Soho neighborhood, where they met up with retired WNBA star Bird, 42, Tuesday.
Megan Rapinoe was seen stepping out in Soho, Manhattan with partner Sue Bird (not pictured) and another friend (right) Tuesday in her first public appearance since the US’ World Cup exit
Rapinoe (left) kept a low-profile, dressed in a white tank top, beige elastic waist shorts, and loafers, and accessorized with lavender-colored sunglasses
The midfielder has returned home after her shocking missed penalty kick got the USWNT eliminated from the World Cup on August 6
Aside from her signature dyed blue locks, Rapinoe kept a low-profile, dressed in a white tank top, beige elastic waist shorts, and loafers, and accessorized with lavender-colored sunglasses.
The two friends were seen stepping out before grabbing lunch with Bird at a nearby restaurant.
Bird matched her partner’s casual vibe, also stepping out in cream shorts and a graphic t-shirt, while their friend donned a high neck tank top, sweatpants, and sneakers.
Despite the controversy surrounding her underwhelming performance at the World Cup, Rapinoe seemed upbeat and in good spirits as the trio chatted over their meal.
The soccer star, who announced her decision to retire the end of the season last month, appears to be putting down roots in New York as she begins a new chapter in her after being based in Seattle – where she and Bird had played professionally for the past several years.
In a feature story for Elle Decor’s September Style issue, Rapinoe revealed the pair – who began dating in 2017 – took the next step in their relationship two years ago by buying a 1,650 square foot, two-bedroom pied-à-terre together in Soho.
Rapinoe (left) and Bird (right) appear to be putting down roots in New York after being based in Seattle for the past several years
Earlier this month Rapinoe came under heavy fire for laughing on the field following her shocking penalty miss against Sweden
WNBA legend Bird (center) also opted for a casual look, matching her partner’s casual vibe with cream shorts and a white t-shirt, while their friend (right) wore sweatpants
The couple opened up the doors of their home to the magazine as they discussed the different design elements of their new place, for which they enlisted the help of designer Mark Grattan.
In the interview Rapinoe said that the apartment is a place that they’d like to keep happy and build a future upon.
‘New York is a really special place to both of us,’ she said. ‘Sue is from here. It feels like the place where we fell in love—it feels like home in so many ways.’
Tuesday’s outing comes after Rapinoe came under heavy fire earlier this month for laughing on the field after missing a penalty shot against Sweden, with critics labeling her ‘the epitome of selfish’ and ‘diabolically arrogant’.
The loss was already a devastating blow to the defending World Cup champs, but Rapinoe sparked further outrage by appearing to laugh and smirk as she jogged back to the halfway line after rocketing the ball over the bar.
Rapinoe and a number of her USWNT teammates later released statements on social media following their World Cup exit.
She did not directly address the flak she has received but she did admit this was a ‘cruel’ moment in her career.
‘This game is so beautiful, even in its cruelest moments. This group was so very special, and I am immensely proud of every single one of us,’ Rapinoe wrote alongside a photo of the devastated team.
The couple was seen meeting up with a female friend before grabbing lunch at a nearby restaurant
Despite the controversy surrounding her underwhelming performance at the World Cup, Rapinoe seemed upbeat and in good spirits as the trio chatted outside
The three enjoyed a two-hour lunch at a Soho restaurant on Tuesday
‘This team is in special hands as I walk away, just like it always was, and always will be. Because that is what this team is all about.
‘We lay it all out on the line every single time. Fighting with everything that we have, for everything we deserve, for every person we possibly can.
‘It has been my honor to play for our country, with so many incredible woman, for so many years. Thank you, a million times over.’
The team’s ‘inexplicable’ exit from the tournament sparked calls for ‘top to bottom’ overhaul of women’s soccer in the United States.
Rapinoe was the co-captain of the USWNT who had just won its second World Cup on the bounce in 2019. She also left France as the tournament’s highest scorer, with six goals.
She graced the covers of magazines, starred in advert campaigns and was even named Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year.
Rapinoe’s international career came to an end on August 6 after she missed a crucial penalty in the World Cup penalty shoot-out against Sweden
The athlete was slammed for smiling and laughing after the missed shot that resulted in the team’s elimination
Rapinoe and a number of her USWNT teammates later released statements on social media
But even then, Rapinoe was already a polarizing figure.
In 2016, she became one of the first white athletes to take the knee during the national anthem in support of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.
Her actions prompted US Soccer to issue a statement which stated its disapproval without directly naming her.
Former teammate Hope Solo has since accused Rapinoe of bullying other members of the USA team into taking a knee.
In 2019 she was criticized by former President Donald Trump after she stated she would not be going to the White House if the USWNT were to win the World Cup that year.