Megan Rapinoe announced her retirement after the World Cup, NWSL season

Megan Rapinoe, the dominant U.S. women’s national team soccer star and one of the most politically outspoken American athletes, announced Saturday that she plans to retire at the end of the year and make this World Cup her last.

Rapinoe, 38, has played for the US women’s national team since 2006, and the World Cup, scheduled to begin later this month in Australia and New Zealand, will be her fourth.

“I could never have imagined where this beautiful game would have taken me,” Rapinoe told reporters during a surprise appearance at a news conference ahead of the U.S.’s game against Wales in San Jose, Calif., scheduled for Sunday.

“I feel very honored to have represented this country, this federation for so many years,” he said. “It’s truly the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

Rapinoe, who has been plagued by numerous injuries throughout her career, dealt with an ankle injury leading up to the National Women’s Soccer League season and missed two national team friendlies against Ireland in April with a calf injury.

Rapinoe made her biggest mark in 2019 when she won the Ballon d’Or for women’s soccer player of the year, the Golden Boot as top scorer and the Golden Ball as the best player of the World Cup with six goals.

He has been outspoken on many issues, including LGBTQ rights and former President Donald J. He was a frequent opponent of Trump. His leadership of the team also comes at a time when the team is fighting with its national federation for pay equity, facing disparities between the economics of the men’s and women’s versions of the game.

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Rapinoe also played in two women’s professional leagues in the United States, starting with the Women’s Professional League, which closed in 2011, and the NWSL, where she announced her retirement from the NWSL after this season.

Alex Morgan, another top star on the U.S. team, said Rapinoe texted the team’s team chat Saturday morning to announce his decision. “Well,” said Morgan, “now we have to beat the whole damn thing.”

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