Megan Rapinoe was just trying to get through her postgame speech on Sunday without crying. Poking fun at Lindsey Horan, she says, helped “a little bit.”
Rapinoe played in her final game with the U.S. women’s national team on Sunday, a 2-0 friendly win over South Africa that served as an emotional conclusion to the forward’s storied 17-year career. Horan, who received the captain’s armband from Rapinoe when she subbed off in the 54th minute, could be seen tearing up as Rapinoe turned around to thank her teammates midway through the speech.
“Pull it together, Lindsey,” Rapinoe joked. “She’s not handling it well. It’s OK. Love you, too.”
Rapinoe said her words to the crowd after the game were both “planned and not planned.” That included her message to Horan, who she later said has been “crying all week.” On Thursday, the team also said goodbye to longtime midfielder Julie Ertz.
“She needs to pull it together. She’ll be fine,” Rapinoe joked to reporters. “But we did have a really special connection on the field from the time she got in this environment. I think it’s tough for her to lose someone who she feels like sees her, especially on the field, just as it is for me to step away.”
She's never been at a loss for words.Pinoe's Farewell from Chicago 🎙️ pic.twitter.com/xEfWJEbtTK— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 25, 2023
She's never been at a loss for words.Pinoe's Farewell from Chicago 🎙️ pic.twitter.com/xEfWJEbtTK
Horan, a bright spot for the USWNT at the World Cup this summer, explained what Ertz and Rapinoe have meant to both her and the team.
“It’s cool for our country and for the world to see a player like [Rapinoe] and a player like Julie stay on top of their game for such a consistent time, and just play every single day, show up every single day, play their heart out, score incredible goals and make this team who we are,” Horan said. “So to celebrate them, we do it the right way in the U.S., sending them off in the right way. So I’m so happy that we had that moment for P today.”
Horan, 29, said U.S. players like Rapinoe were role models for her growing up, and that only added to the emotions of Sunday’s game.
“Players like Pinoe, Tobin [Heath], they’re what I looked up to because they’re different. They’re entertaining. They just did things differently on the field,” she said. “And so I think that’s why it’s really hard for me. I’m losing just an idol, and it’s hard. That’s what you looked up to. That’s another reason that you fall in love with the game.”