Ahead of Megan Rapinoe’s final match with the U.S. women’s national team, the retiring star expressed her confidence in the next generation of players. They proved her right Sunday, leading the team to a 2-0 win in Rapinoe’s last hurrah.
The 38-year-old forward donned the captain’s armband for her last USWNT appearance Sunday afternoon at Chicago’s Soldier Field against South Africa. Julie Ertz did the same for her USWNT finale Thursday in Cincinnati.
Yet as she considered the next chapter for the team, Rapinoe pointed to the new wave of talent, naming Sophia Smith, Naomi Girma and Trinity Rodman in particular.
“That’s why I have such peace about moving on, is I look at players like Soph Smith, Naomi, Trin,” she said. “The squad is in very, very good hands if those are the ones that are holding it moving forward.”
Smith and Rodman are taking the mantle from Rapinoe on the forward line, with 23-year-old Smith scoring two goals for the USWNT at the 2023 World Cup and 21-year-old Rodman opening the scoring in Sunday’s victory. Naomi Girma, 23, who started at center-back throughout the World Cup, has been another bright spot for the team, as Lynn Williams said on the latest episode of Just Women’s Sports‘ “Snacks” podcast.
“I’m so excited to see what they do and to see where they take the team, not only on the field but off the field as well,” Rapinoe said.
She pointed to Girma, who has spoken out about the importance mental health throughout 2023, in just her second NWSL season and her second year on the USWNT.
“To me, that is such a mature thing and shows so much about her character,” Rapinoe said. “And I feel like so many players on the team right now will take the disappointment from this tournament but turn it into something really beautiful.”
W̶i̶n̶d̶y̶ ̶ CityTrindy @trinity_rodman opens the scoring! pic.twitter.com/OJyGyZFn9S— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
W̶i̶n̶d̶y̶ ̶ CityTrindy @trinity_rodman opens the scoring! pic.twitter.com/OJyGyZFn9S