Megan Rapinoe wins 2019 Ballon d'Or, becoming first USWNT player to do so

USWNT star <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1124356/" data-ylk="slk:Megan Rapinoe">Megan Rapinoe</a> won the Ballon d'Or on Monday as the planet's top player in women's soccer. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
USWNT star Megan Rapinoe won the Ballon d'Or on Monday as the planet's top player in women's soccer. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Megan Rapinoe capped her incredible year by winning the Ballon d’Or Féminin on Monday in Paris, presented annually now to the top player in women’s soccer.

She’s the first United States women’s national team player to win it, with Norwegian striker and Lyon star Ada Hegerberg winning the inaugural award last year.

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Rapinoe helped lead the USWNT to its fourth World Cup title last summer in France, scoring six goals and recording three assists to earn both the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player and Golden Boot as its top scorer. She also returned later in the National Women’s Soccer League season and helped Reign FC reach the playoffs, where they fell to the eventual champion North Carolina Courage.

On top of that, the self-described “walking protest” became a global symbol for female empowerment, clashing with President Donald Trump from across the Atlantic and spearheading the USWNT’s fight for equal pay.

Rapinoe, 34, sent a video message thanking her fans and peers as she couldn’t be at the ceremony. She was joined by USWNT teammates Alex MorganRose Lavelle and Tobin Heath as Ballon d’Or finalists.

England’s Lucy Bronze finished as runner-up, while Morgan finished third.

The shortlist also included Hegerberg, Orlando Pride and Brazilian star Marta, and Australian star Sam Kerr, who spent last season with the Chicago Red Stars and just signed with Chelsea.

Here are the other finalists: Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon/France), Amandine Henry (Lyon/France), Dzsenifer Marozsán (Lyon/Germany), Wendie Renard (Lyon/France), Kosovare Asllani (Real Madrid/Sweden), Sofia Jakobsson (Real Madrid/Sweden), Pernille Harder (VFL Wolfsburg/Denmark), Nilla Fischer (Linköpings/Sweden), Lieke Martens (Barcelona/Netherlands), Vivienne Miedema (Arsenal/Netherlands), Sari van Veenendaal (Atletico Madrid/Netherlands), and Ellen White (Manchester City/England).

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