US soccer star Megan Rapinoe announces she’ll retire after the NWSL season
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe is ready to retire after an illustrious career in which she won an Olympic gold medal, two World Cups and never shied away from using her platform to spotlight social issues.
Rapinoe, 38, announced Saturday her fourth World Cup will be her last and she’ll officially retire with the OL Reign at the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season.
Rapinoe and the U.S. team are aiming for a third consecutive title when the Women’s World Cup kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. plays Wales in a final tune-up match Sunday in California before leaving for the World Cup.
“I’m just really grateful to be able to do it in this way,” Rapinoe said in San Jose, California, ahead of the match. “I understand that it is incredibly rare for athletes of any stature to be able to go out in their own way, on their own terms, at the time that they want, in a way that feels really peaceful and settled for them.
“So just wanted to do it now and honestly kind of get it out of the way before we go down to New Zealand so we can focus on the task at hand, which is winning another World Cup.”
At the 2019 World Cup in France, Rapinoe scored six goals over the course of the tournament, including a penalty in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final. She also finished with three assists and claimed the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for the best overall player. Rapinoe also took home the Ballon d’Or and the Best FIFA Women’s Player awards — the game’s top individual honors — for her play in 2019.
Rapinoe is tied with Abby Wambach for third all-time in assists for the U.S. Women’s National Team and is one of only seven players in team history with more than 50 career goals and assists. She first played for the U.S. senior team in 2006.
Rapinoe has played her entire 11-year NWSL career for the Reign. She has scored the sixth most goals in league history with 48.
An outspoken advocate for equal pay in women’s soccer and supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, President Joe Biden last year awarded Rapinoe the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Rapinoe was the first white athlete and first female to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, according to U.S. Soccer.
She is engaged to be married to women’s basketball icon Sue Bird.
“I don’t even think there are words to say what she’s meant to the growth of soccer in this country, and not just this country, worldwide,” U.S. forward Sophia Smith said. “She is a legend. ... So it is a really sad and bittersweet time. But I’m excited to be able to go on this last journey with her in the World Cup and see all the great things that she does after her career.”
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