Megan Rapinoe, the iconic soccer star who transcended her sport to become one of the most outspoken, accomplished, and dynamic athletes of her generation, didn’t want to wait until the end to say that this season would be the end.
She was not going to play match after match at the Women’s World Cup, which begins later this month in Australia and New Zealand, as she retired after her last major tournament for the United States and her final season as a professional. a team. In perfect Rapinoe fashion, there was simply no way she would remain silent about something so important to her.
So unexpectedly, at a press conference on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s US game against Wales in San Jose, Calif., Rapinoe, 38, said it was time to say goodbye.
“I just want to say thank you everyone,” she said to a room full of reporters as the USA team prepares to fly to New Zealand for the Women’s World Cup. “I could never have imagined where this beautiful game would take me.” Football has been described as “the greatest thing I’ve ever done”.
After 17 years in the National Team and nearly as many years speaking out in support of various causes including LGBTQ rights, equal pay, the Black Lives Matter movement, and voter rights, Rapinoe will be playing in her fourth Women’s World Cup and her final season at the National. Women’s Football League and would finish her career at the top of her sport.
She is a three-time Olympian who won gold with her team at the 2012 London Olympics. She played in 199 games for the national team and scored 63 goals for the United States, often making huge plays as a creative and ferocious forward, exactly when her team needed it most.
There is perhaps no greater example of her ability to perform under pressure than when she scored two goals in the quarter-final against France at the 2019 World Cup. Her goals came just days after she criticized former President Donald J. Trump on Twitter for her stance that she would not go to the White House. Trump if her team wins the championship.
Trump said, “Meghan has to win first before she speaks! Get the job done!”
But Rapinoe did not flinch. In the fifth minute of that match against France, she scored from a free kick and ran to the corner of the field, stretching her arms wide and enjoying the crowd’s applause. She scored again in the second half to lead the team to the semi-finals with a 2-1 win. The Americans went on to win this world title, their second in a row.
Rapinoe was stunning on the field in 2019. She won the Ballon d’Or as FIFA Women’s Player of the Year. Her six World Cup goals helped her win the Golden Boot as top scorer and the Golden Ball as best player.
“She’s just an amazing player who has done so much for this program, so much for soccer in general,” said longtime Rapinoe teammate Alex Morgan. “I’m really happy for her that she’s going out with a bang, hopefully.”
Rapinoe, who has had numerous injuries throughout her career, was dealing with an ankle injury that missed two Ireland friendlies in April due to a calf injury. But even at less than 100 percent, her leadership will be key for the USA team, which includes 14 junior players at the World Cup.
“It’s all for her,” defenseman Crystal Dunn said, adding that Rapinoe has been an inspiration to her throughout her career.
“I think it’s someone you’ve always wanted in your corner,” she said.
The team now knows that Rapinoe will be there for one final tournament, and all the players want to take advantage of it.
“Well, now we have to go and win it all,” said Morgan.
Claire Fahey Reported from San Jose, California.
“Introvert. Subtly charming web geek. Lifelong entrepreneur. Amateur social media expert. Coffee trailblazer.”