Rapinoe knelt during the anthem before Sunday’s match in Chicago, showing solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who has refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial injustice and minority oppression.
"To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves," the Spirit said in the statement.
After the match, Rapinoe said she was saddened by the Spirit's move.
"It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event,” Rapinoe told the Washington Post.
The Spirit said team owner Bill Lynch is a veteran who has lost friends in overseas conflicts, as had his close friends.