Kristie Mewis wants to see Megan Rapinoe go for another World Cup after this one.
While the veteran forward announced last week her intention to retire at the end of the NWSL season, her teammates aren’t so quick to accept her decision to step away from the game.
“I keep telling P, I’m like, ‘Go another cycle, P. Come on, like we need you another cycle,'” Mewis joked during USWNT media availability on Monday, adding that it’s “really sad” this will be Rapinoe’s final World Cup.
Rapinoe has said that she is “feeling all the feels” ahead of her final World Cup, and she announced it early so that the team could focus on the task ahead: winning a third straight World Cup title. That hasn’t stopped players from speaking about what Rapinoe means to the team and the sport.
“She’s a special person, a special player on this team, and her impact is felt, I think, far deeper than just on this team,” said U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. “She’s willing to do a lot of the extra. She’ll do a lot more of the interviews, a lot more of the media, she’ll take on the hard questions — the difficult things that then allow other people to not have to have that be a stressful thing or not have to be a factor, and she lets them be them.”
During her 18-year career, Rapinoe has become a polarizing figure to some for being “unapologetically herself,” as Naeher described her on Monday. While winning two World Cups and an Olympic gold medal, Rapinoe has been a staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, the USWNT’s equal pay fight, abortion access and racial justice initiatives. In 2022, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honor in the United States – from President Joe Biden.
Athletically, Rapinoe’s accomplishments are undeniable. Entering her fourth World Cup, the 38-year-old is 10th on the USWNT’s all-time leading scorers list with 63 goals. The winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or Féminin, she also won the Golden Ball as the best player of the 2019 World Cup.
“She has led us on and off the field for decades,” Christen Press said at the ESPYs alongside Tobin Heath. “She is someone that we have both played really closely with, that we both looked up to, that we’ve both learned from, and we will continue to do so, because the beauty of Megan Rapinoe is what she does on the field is only a fraction of who she is and what she stood for, and what she stood against.
“She just embodies the team. Honestly, she’s just like, she’s such a presence,” Mewis said Monday. “That’s the way I would describe her. She brings so much on the field, she brings so much off the field. You feel weird when she’s not around.
“I think that it’s really sad that this will be her last [World Cup], but I think she has impacted this team immensely. She’s such a special person and a special player. And I think that her legacy will live on for a long time.”