American football icon Megan Rapinoe She sat out her final professional match on Saturday due to injury before FC Gotham defeated the Rapinoes’ OL Reign 2-1 on Saturday to win their first-ever National Women’s Soccer League.
In the third minute of the match, while the two teams were tied 1-1 in the first half, Rapinoe went down due to an injury. The coaching staff attended to the 38-year-old, who remained on the turf for about two minutes.
The two-time World Cup winner limped off the pitch accompanied by coaches at Snapdragon Arena in San Diego, California, and was replaced by substitute Bethany Balcer.
The Olympic champion later told CBS she suspected she had torn her Achilles tendon.
“This is tough, and certainly not how I thought it would happen,” Rapinoe said.
Rapinoe returned to the sideline in a walking boot after briefly leaving the field and appeared to be in good spirits.
“Thank you to everyone who has been on the journey this whole time. It has been amazing. I couldn’t, coupled with this (injury), I couldn’t have written it any differently,” she added. “I’m so proud of my whole career and I feel really grateful for everything you’ve given me.” For me and for as long as I was able to play. So, even though it was a tough night, it was amazing, and I feel grateful to be here. Once again, very proud of our group and congratulations to Gotham.
Brian Rothmueller/Sportswire Icon/AP
US defender Ali Krieger (11 years old) and USA striker Megan Rapinoe (15 years old) walk off the field at halftime during the US Victory Tour match between the USA and the Republic of Ireland on August 3, 2019, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Saturday’s game was Rapinoe’s last time playing Ali Kriegera teammate of the US Women’s National Team legend, would take to the field as enemies when Krieger’s Gotham FC took on OL Reign.
The two footballing greats, who were due to bid farewell to professional sport on November 11, had been friends and teammates for most of their illustrious careers.
Before the match, in the final pre-match press conference of her career, she was emotional Rapino I couldn’t hold back the tears.
“I’ve always tried to play the game the right way, and I’ve always tried to enjoy it,” she told reporters when answering a question about her legacy. “At the end of the day, I feel like we’re in the entertainment business and especially in a growing sport and a growing league, I feel like that’s really important.
“I’ve always tried to make things better, and I’ve come away very proud and very happy not only with my contributions to the game but also the era that I played in. Knowing that the game is in a better place is a testament to all the players who played in this generation and played in this league, and some of us play with National team.
“We just had a huge media deal announced, this league has been crazy this year, it’s been so much fun to watch and be involved in all the storylines, so I feel like I’m going to walk away smiling no matter what and really proud throughout my career.”
Despite the occasion of Saturday’s final, Rapinoe said everything in the build-up to the match was “exactly the same”, including kicking the ball between her legs – or nutmeg – during passing drills in training.
“I’m involved in rondos all the time,” Rapinoe laughed.
The 38-year-old, a two-time World Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist with the United States, walks away from women’s soccer knowing the sport’s future looks bright.
The NWSL, the top women’s professional league in the United States, announced Thursday what it called a “historic” media deal that will see 118 of the league’s matches during the 2024 season shown across Amazon Prime, ION, CBS, Paramount Plus and ESPN.
Stephen Brashear/USA Today Sports/Reuters
Rapinoe and Krieger will face off one final time on Saturday.
“These partnerships are fundamentally game-changing for our league and the players who take the field every week,” NFL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. “This is the beginning of our future.”
In addition to everything she achieved on the pitch, Rapinoe’s legacy extends far beyond the white lines of football.
The midfielder from California has become an influential activist, philanthropist, fashion icon and advocate for equal rights in society.
Throughout her career, Rapinoe has championed numerous causes including racial equality, women’s rights, equal pay, and LGBTQ+ issues, to name a few.
Perhaps it was written in the stars that both Rapinoe and Krieger would enjoy their last dance on the field together in the NWSL Championship game.
On Monday, after both teams had booked their places in the final, Krieger revealed on Instagram a two-month text exchange with Rapinoe.
When Rapinoe asked when her last match would be, Krieger confidently said it would be November 11.
“Well, I guess this is my last game too,” Rapinoe replied.
Krieger has enjoyed a similarly impressive career as her USA teammate, and also played a crucial role in the team’s World Cup victories in 2015 and 2019.
The 39-year-old defender is also a Champions League winner, having lifted the trophy with Frankfurt in 2008, and has a host of individual accolades that reflect her outstanding abilities on the pitch.
Krieger, whose final pregame news conference was comically interrupted by spiders falling onto the desk, echoed Rapinoe’s sentiments about the league’s growth throughout her career.
“It was definitely difficult at first,” she told reporters. “I was fighting to wear socks for some of the players during training, and sometimes we had to wash our own clothes, so we’ve definitely come a long way.
“Over the years, no matter what team you belong to, no matter where you belong in this country and who you play for, at the end of the road we… [the players] They have each other’s backs. We have strength in numbers and I think we’ve seen that over the years.
“We know how to fight for each other, we know how to fight for what’s best for this league and these players, and that, ultimately, I think what I’m most proud of is leaving this game better than we found it.”
The NWSL final kicked off at 8pm ET on Saturday and is available to watch in the US on CBS and Paramount Plus.
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