Retiring star Megan Rapinoe was honored by membership crew OL Reign on Friday evening in front of a National Women’s Soccer League-record crowd of 34,130 followers, many of whom wore pink wigs in her honor.
With her household and fiancée Sue Bird trying on, Rapinoe began for the Reign in a scoreless draw in opposition to the Washington Spirit. Lumen Field’s public deal with system performed “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” when she took to the sector along with her teammates.
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“I do know my impact but it’s one thing to know it, and another thing to really feel it and see it,” Rapinoe stated. “To see some of the signs and the pink wigs and see what that means to people.
“It’s onerous to place simply this deep sense of gratitude and pleasure and thankfulness for with the ability to have a second like this into phrases.”
Rapinoe had already played her final match with the United States women’s national team last month in Chicago, but Friday marked her final regular-season home game for the Reign.
“I do not ever assume we took it without any consideration our 11 years right here one bit. I believe that is how Pinoe lives, she lives with this pleasure, she lives for these moments, and he or she actually pushes us to additionally do this,” teammate Lauren Barnes said. “I believe it is plain the optimistic affect she’s had.”
A video played before the match included well-wishes from such luminaries as Abby Wambach, Ken Griffey Jr. and Magic Johnson.
Rapinoe has played in 114 regular-season games for the Reign and scored 49 goals. Her club career isn’t quite over: Next week the Reign wrap up the season on the road against the Chicago Red Stars.
And there’s a possibility the Reign make the playoffs. With Racing Louisville’s 3-2 victory over the Orlando Pride earlier Friday, the Reign moved into sixth place in the standings, just above the playoff line.
Rapinoe announced before this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand hat she was stepping away from the game after an illustrious career that included two World Cup titles, an Olympic gold medal and an Olympic bronze.
At the 2019 World Cup in France, Rapinoe scored six goals, including a penalty in the final against the Netherlands. Her victory pose with arms outstretched became one of the iconic images of the dominant U.S. run.
She claimed the tournament’s Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for the best overall player, and later that year was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player and won the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
She has been with the Reign since 2013 and is one of just five players leaguewide who have remained with the same team since the NWSL’s launch.
Commissioner Jessica Berman hopes Rapinoe will continue to play a role in the league.
“It’s onerous to place into phrases the affect she’s had on the sport, each on the pitch and off the pitch. She has embodied braveness and bravado in a method that I do not know many athletes have completed,” Berman said. “And she’s actually embraced her position along with her full genuine self.”
A farewell match for a legend.
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 7, 2023
Rapinoe is also known for her social justice activism. She led the national team’s long fight for equal pay with the men’s national team, which started with an EEOC complaint in 2016. It was finally resolved last year, when both teams reached contracts with U.S. Soccer that paid them equally and split tournament prize money.
Among the first prominent athletes to publicly come out, Rapinoe has been outspoken about LGBTQIA+ issues. She has also advocated for racial equity and was among those who knelt in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“That’s what actually issues,” Rapinoe said. “Of course we love enjoying, we wish to make the league higher in each potential method that we will. But it is a sport on the finish of the day and it is one thing that we get to make use of to what I really feel the purpose of life is: To use what it’s a must to higher your self and make folks higher round you and go away issues in a greater place than the place you discovered them.
“To me that’s the whole point and that’s what I take most pride in.”