Every great rivalry needs two opposing forces.
And for the past decade, Megan Rapinoe has been just that for Christine Sinclair. Former teammates at the University of Portland, Sinclair and Rapinoe have been rivals in the NWSL and on the international stage, Sinclair for Canada and Rapinoe for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Saturday night might have been the final time the two stars met on an NWSL pitch – Sinclair for the Portland Thorns, Rapinoe for the OL Reign – and afterward Sinclair spoke about what Rapinoe means to her.
“I’ve spent my entire career competing against her, whether it’s for Canada or with Portland,” Sinclair told reporters. “I have so much respect for her. We’re definitely two different types of people, but what she’s done for the game, she’s helped inspire an entire generation of young soccer fans.
“I’m going to miss playing against her. This rivalry is going to miss having her, and our fans are going to miss booing her.”
The Thorns won the game, 2-0, with goals from Hina Sugita and Morgan Weaver. When Rapinoe was subbed out in the 86th minute, she received a standing ovation from the Portland crowd.
Rapinoe and Sinclair were teammates on the 2005 Portland team that beat UCLA in the College Cup Finals. They eventually ended up on opposing sides in the NWSL, planting the seeds for what turned into one of the league’s fiercest rivalries.
Meghan Klingenberg, a Thorns defender and Rapinoe’s former national team teammate, spoke of the intensity of the matchup in advance of the game.
“From a significance point of a friend, I’m incredibly proud and happy for Pinoe to have this type of sendoff, and I hope we really f—k it up this weekend,” Klingenberg said. “We don’t give a f—k that Megan Rapinoe is coming to town and it’s her last game.”