Megan Rapinoe has slammed English football for their "disgraceful" under-investment in the women's game while admitting to fearing for her career after taking a knee in 2016.
The profile of the Women's Super League was raised significantly following a summer of major transfers, with members of the United States' 2019 World Cup winners squad completing moves to England.
They joined international stars like Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema in the WSL, which is finally starting to see increased exposure around the world after entering into its 10th year.
Rapinoe, who serves as captain for both the USWNT and OL Reign, thinks a solid platform for the women's game to grow on a larger scale has been a long-time coming, and she has been particularly unimpressed by the lack of funding provided to clubs in England.
"I think women's football in England is the same as in America - it is so far behind because of what we've had to overcome in the lack of investment," the 35-year-old told BBC Sport.
"I've had a few team-mates go abroad and play, while I'm training and trying to keep fit in the hopes that eventually we'll be out of this hellscape."
Rapinoe went on to insist she has no plans to hang up her boots with the Olympics just around the corner, and has even opened the door to a potential appearance at the next World Cup finals in 2023.
"I want to keep playing. I'm definitely not anywhere near retirement - I absolutely want to play at the Olympics," she said. "After the Olympics I'll have to take a longer look at the next three years. We're a year closer to the next World Cup and it's pretty enticing. We'll leave that one out in the open."
The United States talisman also opened up on the backlash she received after taking a knee in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem four years ago, insisting she has no regrets over taking a stand against police brutality and racial injustice.
"I'm proud of it, to be honest. I'm proud of speaking my mind and doing the right thing. I feel this is how change is made," she said. "Any time I have someone try to explain or argue with me about kneeling or arguing, it's just an incoherent, fumbling, patriotic mess, right? Taking a knee sharpened my understanding of what I did, how I supported Colin and sharpened my resolved in that.
"It was not a comfortable time. I certainly felt that at least my international career was a little bit in jeopardy.
"It showed me a lot of true colors around me in a lot of different ways. The critics yell really loud and I had a federation who clearly didn't support me and, I felt, a coach who really didn't support me, but I had so many people around me who always stuck by me and were with me the whole time.
"You have a choice of what you do in the world. You just have to be prepared to wear the consequences of your actions."