Megan Rapinoe announced plans to retire following the National Women's Soccer League season, making the upcoming 2023 World Cup her final appearance for the women's national team.
Rapinoe has been a member of the NWSL's OL Reign since the league's inception in 2013. The 2023 regular season ends on Oct. 15, with the league championship to follow on Nov. 11. The Women's World Cup kicks off on Jul. 20 and runs through Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
When announcing her decision, Rapinoe said, "I've been able to have such an incredible career, and this game has brought me all over the world ... I feel incredibly grateful to have played as long as I have, to be as successful as we've been, and to have been a part of a generation of players who undoubtedly left the game better than they found it."
In 2016, she joined Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan in the initial fight with U.S. Soccer for equal pay between the men's and women's national soccer teams. The two sides finally reached an agreement in May 2022.
Rapinoe has also been an outspoken supporter of other social issues, including LGTBQ+ rights and racial equality.
As U.S. Soccer notes in its article on Rapinoe's retirement announcement, she was "the first white athlete ... to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with football player Colin Kaepernick" following a string of shooting deaths in the U.S. of unarmed Black men.
In an interview with Time, Rapinoe, who is openly gay, discussed her role as an LGBTQ+ spokesperson. "For a long time, I was the only player [who] was out."
The upcoming World Cup will represent Rapinoe's fourth appearance in the event. She first played in 2011, when the team finished second. The national squad has won gold in each of the last two World Cups, with Rapinoe winning the Golden Boot in 2019 after scoring six goals in five matches.
Rapinoe, 38, would become the oldest woman to score a goal at the World Cup with one at this year's event. Brazilian soccer great Formiga set the benchmark in 2015 at the age of 37 against North Korea in the group stage.
She should have plenty of opportunities to set the record. The U.S. (+250) is favored to win its third consecutive World Cup. Rapinoe's retirement announcement should give the team even more motivation to bring home the gold.