April 14, 2024

Retiring OL Reign star and two-time Women’s World Cup-winner Megan Rapinoe said on Thursday that her final match in Saturday’s NWSL championship game is “the perfect way to go out” with the backdrop of a possible record crowd for the final and a recent media deal for the league.

“I’m just so proud of my generation and all the players that have worked so hard to put us in this position. We obviously would’ve never had this a few years ago, so I feel like it is the perfect way to go out,” said the 38-year-old, who will play NJ/NY Gotham FC in the weekend’s championship game at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California.

“To be able to be in the championship game, to see how much the league has grown, to see how much the sport has grown [and] obviously a historic media deal today is just absolutely incredible.”

On Thursday, the league announced a new media partnership deal with CBS Sports, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps Sports that is worth $240 million, according to ESPN sources.

Regarding the improvements for the league and for women’s soccer in the country, Rapinoe acknowledged the effort that she and others have put to help increase its development.

“I’ve always tried to leverage, in the most severe way possible, the platform that we have,” Rapinoe said. “Not only with the national team, but in the league as well to affect change and to move progress forward, to use the success that we’ve had to make things better.”

The league could continue making those steps forward through this weekend’s highly anticipated championship, which will provide the Reign star with the possibility to end her professional career with an exclamation mark in front of a possible record crowd. In last weekend’s win over the San Diego Wave, a playoff record 32,262 fans came out to Snapdragon Stadium.

“This is amazing. I want to win just as much as everybody else wants to win and hopefully put a little cherry on top of my career,” said Rapinoe. “I want to win the championship this year, that’s something that has eluded me in this club and something we’re all really focused on.”

Rapinoe won’t be the only player taking part in their last match on Saturday either.

On the opposite end of the pitch, Gotham FC defender Ali Krieger will also be hanging up her boots after the match. Despite facing off against each other soon, Rapinoe noted the significance of being able to play against a long-time friend in a championship match.

“It’s really special, to be honest,” said Rapinoe. “I mean obviously only one of us is gonna be able to win and that’s gonna be sad for whoever the person that doesn’t win. But it’s really special to share the length of career that we have [had].

“I know if I win, she’ll be happy for me and if she wins, I’ll be thrilled for her.”

Considering the longevity of her career, Rapinoe, who has never won a NWSL title, didn’t shy away from discussing the fact that she is still playing at a high level in her late 30s.

“I look at my entire career and just think this is f—ing crazy,” Rapinoe said. “I can’t believe that I’m here to still play the game that I love at 38 and to have had the success that I’ve had with my teammates. Not only here but with the national team.

“I would love to get that one last little thing [NWSL title] but I think in terms of my career I feel really grateful and proud.”

As for her future, the OL Reign player was excited about what’s ahead in 2024 and beyond.

“I’m retiring but you’ll still certainly be seeing a lot of me,” said Rapinoe, noting her business ventures, partnership with Nike, and other projects on the horizon that she couldn’t reveal just yet. As for a career in broadcasting, Rapinoe was blunt on that prospect.

“I have thought about it and the answer is no. That s— is too much work y’all,” said Rapinoe. “FCC would probably have a problem with me on the broadcast mic on live TV.”

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