Megan Rapinoe walked off the pitch for the U.S. women’s national team for the last time, but not without taking one final bow.
The 38-year-old forward sailed into retirement with a 2-0 win against South Africa at Chicago’s Soldier Field. From the roar of the crowd before the match as she shared a kiss with fiancée Sue Bird to the standing ovation as she exited in the 54th minute to her emotional speech after the final whistle, the entire affair served as a celebration of Rapinoe’s legacy.
With the captain’s armband on her sleeve, Rapinoe celebrated with 21-year-old forward Trinity Rodman, who opened the scoring in the first half. In speaking with reporters Saturday, Rapinoe had pointed to Rodman as one of the rising stars poised to lead the USWNT into its new era.
“The squad is in very, very good hands if those are the ones that are holding it moving forward,” she said.
She also helped to set up Emily Sonnett’s goal in the second half. Rapinoe sailed a corner kick into the box, where it bounced off the hands of the South Africa goalkeeper before Sonnett headed it into the net. In the ensuing celebration, Rapinoe’s teammates made sure she struck one more signature pose.
And when she came off for the final time five minutes later, relieved by Midge Purce in the 54th minute of the match, she took a final bow before the crowd of more than 25,000 fans.
After the victory, she gathered with her teammates in the middle of the field, soaking in the moment and sharing a speech with the crowd.
“When I think about what it means to me to represent not only this team but our country, it’s just that. We’re just a little snapshot of all of you. … We have fought so hard off the field to continue to create more space for ourselves to be who we are, but hopefully I’m turning it into more space for you guys to be who you are.
“It has been such an honor to be able to wear this shirt, to play with all these amazing players and to live out my childhood dream.”
The fam and Sue here for the occasion 💙 pic.twitter.com/JXuki2iiZd— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
The fam and Sue here for the occasion 💙 pic.twitter.com/JXuki2iiZd
🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗 pic.twitter.com/Rffdg1aeST— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
GETTING SAUCY IN CHICAGOOOOO pic.twitter.com/iRFOJZAtlu— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
GETTING SAUCY IN CHICAGOOOOO pic.twitter.com/iRFOJZAtlu
A legend’s final bow. pic.twitter.com/eZPaOrJ3rK— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
A legend’s final bow. pic.twitter.com/eZPaOrJ3rK
We’ll always love you, @mPinoe 👩🎤 pic.twitter.com/jgPt9b3iOL— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
We’ll always love you, @mPinoe 👩🎤 pic.twitter.com/jgPt9b3iOL