In the sixth minute of the 2023 NWSL Championship, her final match as a professional soccer player, OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe exited with a leg injury.
After her team’s 2-1 loss to Gotham FC, Rapinoe’s head coach, teammates and opponents reacted to the unexpected ending to a legendary career.
(On what she told Rapinoe immediately after the injury) “I was just like, ‘You need to wrap that up and get back out here, so go take a couple minutes.’ And I just feel so gutted for her. Honestly, I never thought that would ever happen.
“And I feel so sad because you know football is such a risk, right? And you never know if it’s going to be your last game, your last moment. And to happen to such an incredible player, in that moment, when there was such a buildup and for us talking about this game for the past week, or actually since Sept. 13. It just is so sad and I feel for her and I’m gonna be there every step of the way for her recovery because I know how hard that can be and it’s devastating. … And I never wanted that to happen because I wanted to celebrate with her at the end.”
“It was when I saw her put her head back, I knew, I’ve seen Pinoe go down, and it was just really sad.
“And then one of the girls on their team started crying, and I turned to (Yazmeen Ryan) and I said, ‘Let’s go at her,’ because she was clearly upset. I mean, I think that definitely affected them a lot. I think it affected their concentration. And that’s sports.
“So I’m so sorry that that’s how it ended. But I don’t think it defines or in any way characterizes her impact that she’s had on myself, on this league, everything.”
“It seems like a sick joke that it has to end that way. It’s just been such an honor to be able to share the field with her. So I wish we could’ve gotten it done today for her but yeah, she’s amazing and she didn’t deserve that. … I feel like she just takes it on the chin and she was still our biggest fan out there.”
“You want Pinoe on the field as long as she can be. She is the tactic. … You’d never expect something like this to happen, and it does, and she carries herself like she always has. She is the heart and soul of our club.”
(On Rapinoe returning to the sidelines on crutches to cheer on the team) “Pinoe, you know, she cares about the team. She cares about the club. She’d never have it any other way. And obviously everyone was devastated for her.”