Retired superstar Megan Rapinoe was honored by club team OL Reign on Friday night in front of a National Women’s Soccer League record crowd of 34,130 fans, many of whom wore pink wigs in her honour.
Along with her family and fiancée Sue Bird, Rapinoe started in the Covenant’s scoreless draw against the Washington Spirit. Lumen Field’s public address system played the song “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” as she took the field with her teammates.
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“I know my impact, but it’s one thing to know it, but it’s another thing to feel it and see it,” Rapinoe said. “To see some of the signs and the pink wigs and see what that means to people.
“It’s hard to put into words this deep feeling of gratitude and joy and thanks for being able to have a moment like this.”
Rapinoe had already played her final game with the US women’s national team last month in Chicago, but Friday was her final regular season game at home for the Reigns.
“I never think we took the 11 years we spent here for granted. I think that’s the way Pinoy lives, she lives with that joy, she lives those moments, and she really pushes us to do that as well,” the teammate said. Lauren Barnes said. “I think the positive impact it has had is undeniable.”
A video played before the game included well wishes from notables such as Abby Wambach, Ken Griffey Jr. and Magic Johnson.
Rapinoe played in 114 regular season games with the Reign, scoring 49 goals. Her club career isn’t over yet: next week, the Reign will wrap up the season away against the Chicago Red Stars.
There is a possibility that The Reign will make the playoffs. With Racing Louisville’s 3-2 win over the Orlando Pride earlier Friday, the Rennes moved to sixth place in the standings, just above the playoff line.
Rapinoe announced before the Women’s World Cup finals this summer in Australia and New Zealand that she would step away from the game after an illustrious career that included two World Cup titles, an Olympic gold medal and an Olympic bronze.
In the 2019 World Cup finals in France, Rapinoe scored six goals, including a penalty kick in the final against the Netherlands. Her triumph with outstretched arms became one of the iconic images of the dominant American race.
She was awarded the Golden Boot of the Tournament and the Golden Ball for Best Overall Player, and later that year she was named FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and won the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
She has been with The Reign since 2013 and is one of only five players league-wide to have remained with the same team since the launch of the NWSL.
Commissioner Jessica Berman hopes Rapinoe will continue to play a role in the league.
“It’s hard to put into words the impact she had on the game, both on and off the field,” Berman said. “She embodied courage and bravery in a way that I don’t know many athletes do.” “She really embraced her role with her full, authentic personality.”
A farewell worthy of 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 began with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint in 2016. It was finally resolved last year, when both teams reached contracts with the US Soccer Federation, which paid them The tournament prize money was equally shared.
Among the first high-profile athletes to come out publicly, Rapinoe has been vocal about LGBTQIA+ issues. She has also championed racial equality and was among those who knelt in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“That’s what really matters,” Rapinoe said. “Of course we love to play, and we want to make the league better in every way possible. But it is a game at the end of the day and it is something that we should use for what I feel the purpose of life is: to use what you have to improve yourself and make the people around you better and leave things in a better place than they are.” Where I found her.
“For me, that’s the bottom line, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”