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FourFourTwo USA's 50 Best American Women's Players of 2017: No. 4, Megan Rapinoe

'Pinoe' returned from a bad 2016 and looked like she turned back time in 2017 - for club and country. (Missed our No. 5? Click here to go back.)

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After an ACL injury late in 2015, Megan Rapinoe struggled through 2016, further burdened by the perception that U.S. Soccer might pettily push back against Rapinoe’s kneeling for the national anthem.

So Rapinoe’s 2017 dawned under a cloud of uncertainty, and she made a slow start, limited to reserve roles for the U.S. women’s national team in April and June. But by the Tournament of Nations, Rapinoe was back to her old self, as creative and unpredictable as ever. You only have to look at her cheeky stutter-step goal against Japan in August to get a sense for the flair with which Rapinoe returned to the pitch.

Even the setback of a minor surgery on her left knee in August, which sidelined her for five weeks, couldn’t stop Rapinoe from finishing third overall in NWSL in goals with 12 in 18 games, just one behind Marta, who scored 13 in 23.

Rapinoe is now 32, but still playing like it’s 2011. For the United States, she scored three goals and picked up five assists in 12 games – but those stats came in just 648 minutes. For the Seattle Reign, her 12 goals were spread over 1,522 minutes, or a goal every three halves. That’s a remarkable production rate, with no need for qualifiers like “for her age.” Any 25-year-old would be delighted to put together the season that Rapinoe had.

It’s also noteworthy that Rapinoe has had to alternate roles for club and country. With the U.S. blessed with a deep talent pool at forward, she can work more as a pure winger, though she certainly drifts into the box when the opportunity presents itself. With Seattle facing a deficit in attack following some key roster departures, Rapinoe had to take on more roles, both pulling the game wide and also attacking through the box on her own.

She stepped up in just about every way for her club this year, and she did it with style.

Click here for the entire USWNT 50 Best countdown