The United States Women’s National Team, or USWNT, defeated South Africa in a friendly to send off the iconic Megan Rapinoe in her last international game. Rapinoe announced she is retiring from professional soccer at the end of the 2023 NWSL campaign. That concludes in November. Therefore, this friendly was her last chance to represent the United States.
Rapinoe started on the left wing, where she flanked Alex Morgan. It was Rapinoe’s 203rd time playing for the United States. Therefore, she ranks 12th all-time in caps by a USWNT player. Despite the best efforts of her teammates, Rapinoe did not score her 64th goal in the red, white and blue. Even though she retains her spot in the top 10 goalscorers in the history of the squad, her final time playing for the side did not yield a goal.
However, goals from Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett ensured the USWNT defeated South Africa. Rodman opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a thunderous volley from close range. Alex Morgan found space in the South Africa area before lobbing a cross through the six-yard box. Rodman met the cross on her first touch with a blast into the South Africa net.
While Rapinoe did not get on the scoresheet, she did play a role in the USWNT’s second goal. Andile Dlamini punched away a patented Rapinoe corner kick. However, Sonnett was the first to the rebound. Her looping header beat Dlamini just four minutes after the halftime interval.
Rapinoe closes USWNT career with win over South Africa in last game
Just five minutes after the United States opened a two-goal lead, Rapinoe took her last bow. In front of a rousing crowd at Soldier Field in Chicago, Rapinoe picked up hugs from teammates and applause from South African opponents. Midge Purce replaced Rapinoe to close out a sensational playing career.
The USWNT dominated in a game to commemorate the career of Rapinoe. The Stars and Stripes outshot South Africa 19-0 on the night, but the focus was all on Rapinoe. Over 17 years since making her debut with the USWNT, Rapinoe retired from the squad. In terms of time, her career is the fourth-longest in the history of the USWNT. She made her debut representing the United States on July 23, 2006, against the Republic of Ireland.
In her time with the side, she won two World Cups and reached the Final of another. In 2019, she won the Golden Ball at the Women’s World Cup. That contributed to her winning the Ballon d’Or Femenin, the only American to win the award in the four times the award has been given. Rapinoe was unfortunate to miss a penalty in her last World Cup game with the USWNT, a game in which the United States lost. However, her career achievements with the side are indisputable, and she is one of the greatest women’s soccer players in history.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo
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