Megan Rapinoe, the charismatic figurehead of American soccer, is preparing to play the final match of her career in the NWSL Championship. Regardless of the outcome, Rapinoe has expressed that she will leave the pitch with a smile on her face. Throughout her career, Rapinoe has amassed numerous accolades, including an Olympic gold, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the 2019 Ballon d’Or. However, this championship match between Gotham FC and her OL Reign presents Rapinoe with one last opportunity to claim the National Women’s Soccer League title, a feat that has eluded her in the past. As she completed her final training session with Reign, Rapinoe emphasized the significance of this moment, stating that it is a memory that will last a lifetime.
The upcoming match at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego signifies a changing of the guard for both teams. Neither Gotham FC nor OL Reign has won a championship title in the top-flight American league before, making this a historic occasion. Additionally, the match marks the farewell of defender Ali Krieger from Gotham FC, who, like Rapinoe, was part of the World Cup-winning teams in 2015 and 2019. Reign captain Lu Barnes acknowledged the incredible contributions of both Rapinoe and Krieger, stating that their legacies will endure.
Rapinoe and Krieger leave behind a National Women’s Soccer League that has grown significantly stronger over the past decade. When they first joined the league, attendance was low, and few games were televised. However, the league recently announced a four-year media deal worth a reported record $60 million per year, involving ESPN, CBS, Prime Sports, and Scripps’ ION network. This deal demonstrates the increasing popularity and value of women’s soccer. Rapinoe’s farewell match in Seattle drew an average of 683,000 viewers on CBS, setting a regular-season record for the NWSL.
Reflecting on the season, Rapinoe expressed her excitement about the growth and success of the league. She described it as “insane” and emphasized the joy she experienced being a part of it. Regardless of the outcome of the championship match, Rapinoe is content and grateful for her career, stating that she will walk away with a smile on her face.
In conclusion, Megan Rapinoe’s final match in the NWSL Championship holds great significance for her and the league as a whole. She has achieved numerous accolades throughout her career and now seeks to claim the championship title. This match also marks the farewell of Ali Krieger and represents the growth and success of the NWSL. Despite the outcome, Rapinoe is grateful for her career and the memories she has made.
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