The word iconic is often used and let’s be fair – used correctly -- to describe U.S. Women’s National Team legend Megan Rapinoe. From her trademark haircuts – and colors – to her epic big-game performances, viral goal celebrations, mountains of memorable sound bites and unique flair when it comes to her fashion style, she is an unmistakably authentic and a magnetic personality.
As her remarkable international career comes to a close, Rapinoe’s impact on the game – both on and off the field – continues to shines and that luster will no fade anytime soon, even after her Nikes cleats are tossed into the closet
Away from the pitch, Rapinoe has been a champion and outspoken advocate for a myriad of social issues including LGBTQ+ rights, racial inequality, voter rights, and gender and pay equity and in 2022, became the first women’s soccer player – and one of the first women in sport ever – to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Rapinoe’s contributions on the field for the USWNT have been equally monumental. She will make her 203rd and final appearance for the USA on September 24 when she plays her Farewell Match against South Africa at Chicago’s Soldier Field (5:30 p.m. ET on TNT, Universo and Peacock).
The 14th woman in USWNT history to reach the 200-cap milestone, Rapinoe ranks in the top-ten in team history in both goals scored and assists. Her 63 career international goals put her 10th in program history, one behind Christen Press, while her 73 career assists are tied with Abby Wambach for third. Overall, her 136 combined goal contributions rank eighth all-time in USWNT history and, of the eight women in program history with both 50+ goals and 50+ assists, Rapinoe is the only player with more assists than goals.
Her ability to impact a match has been felt in the biggest games. Of Rapinoe’s 63 career goals, nine have come at World Cups, six in World Cup qualifying, five at the Olympics and two in Olympic qualifying. Her nine World Cup goals are tied for fourth all-time in USWNT history, highlighted by the six scores – five of which came in the knockout rounds – during her run to the Golden Boot award at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In maybe one of the best examples of her daring and creativity on the field, two of Rapinoe’s five goals at the Olympics came via Olimpicos, scoring directly off corner kicks in the 2012 Semifinal against Canada and again in the 2021 bronze medal match against Australia. She ended both those matches with braces, becoming the first player in USWNT history to have multiple multi-goal games at the Olympics.
Her goals – and goal celebrations – have been engrained into sporting lore, but Rapinoe’s assists have been equally instrumental. During the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil in the first of Rapinoe’s four World Cups, she provided a pin-point long service in the waning seconds of overtime which was headed in by Wambach to send the match to a penalty shootout, in which she scored, helping the USA to victory. In total, she closes her career with eight assists in World Cup matches, second to only Mia Hamm in USWNT history.
Rapinoe’s name is – and will for years to come – prominent in the record books, and her influence in the fabric of the team will be equally long-lasting. Sunday’s Farewell Match in Chicago comes 17 years and 63 days after Rapinoe made her debut on July 23, 2006. Only Kristine Lilly (23 years, 94 days), Christie Pearce Rampone (18 years, 204 days) and Mia Hamm (17 years, 127 days) had longer careers with the USWNT. In fact, uncapped 18-year-old Jaedyn Shaw who was named to her first senior team event for these two games and is, the youngest player on this U.S. roster, was not even two years old when Rapinoe made her international debut.
Rapinoe is a player who has spanned generations and of the now 252 players who have earned at least one cap for the USWNT, 99 of them – nearly 40 percent - have played in the same game with Rapinoe.
Sunday’s match at Soldier Field will mark her on-field Farewell, but her impact on the U.S. Women’s National Team, the sport and society at large will continue far after she hangs up her boots.