29.08.2023 20:53 h

Iconic Rapinoe to play final game for USA on September 24

Megan Rapinoe will play her final game for the United States in a September 24 friendly against South Africa in Chicago, USA Soccer said Tuesday.

The federation said Rapinoe will be honored before the match, the second of a two-game series, and won't play in the first game in Cincinnati on September 21.

Rapinoe, 38, announced before the recently concluded World Cup that she would retire when the National Women's Soccer League season ends in November.

The 11-year NWSL veteran is scheduled to play her final regular-season match for the OL Reign at Seattle's Lumen Field on October 6 against the Washington Spirit.

"People may think that my career coming to an end would bring sadness, but when I think back on the past 30-plus years of playing this game, my overriding emotions are joy and gratitude," Rapinoe said in a statement issued by US Soccer.

"It's been an unbelievable ride. It will be special to have this one last opportunity to play for my country in front of our incredible fans and get the chance to thank my teammates and everyone who has had an impact on me as a person and player over the years."

FIFA's 2019 player of the year was denied a third World Cup title when the United States failed to reach the quarter-finals in Australia and New Zealand, where Rapinoe became the 14th American to earn a 200th cap.

The 38-year-old will end her international career with 203 caps. She has scored 63 goals and has also been a driving force in the campaign for gender equality in the sport and beyond.

An advocate for LGBTQ rights who has lent her voice to an array of social justice issues in the United States, Rapinoe was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, by President Joe Biden last year.

Rapinoe played in four Women's World Cups, in Germany in 2011, Canada in 2015, France in 2019 and this year in Australia and New Zealand.

She helped the United States to Olympic gold in London in 2012 in one of her three Olympic appearances.