Megan Rapinoe said goodbye to Seattle ahead of her final OL Reign home game as fans honored her with pink hair, while the team’s head coach and stars like Billie Jean King, Magic Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. paid tribute to the All-American hero.
A record more than 33,000 fans in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) showed up for Friday night’s match at Lumen Field, with the Reign hosting the Washington Spirit in their penultimate regular season match. Rapinoe and Co. then travel to Chicago to face the Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium on October 15.
OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey included Rapinoe in her team’s starting lineup, with the 38-year-old on the left wing, where she has scored two goals and registered five assists in fourteen games played this season.
Rapinoe will be hoping to win her final home match with her club after her time with the US women’s national team ended abruptly in August. The forward was one of three American players to miss a penalty in a round of 16 defeat to Sweden – the team’s worst finish at the tournament in history.
“Hey Megan! It’s Billie Jean (King),” the 12-time Grand Slam winner said in a tribute video for Rapinoe shown ahead of kick-off on Friday. ‘You are a legend and a leader! And we look forward to the next part of your journey.”
Megan Rapinoe was honored Friday ahead of her final home game for the OL Reign in Seattle
Fans honored Rapinoe by wearing pink hair wigs and setting an NWSL attendance record (33,000)
Rapinoe warms up for her final regular season home game against the Washington Spirit
“Pinoe, what can I say…you did it all!” then said Abby Wambach – the all-time highest goal scorer in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team. “You were part of the biggest games, biggest moments. You have won the biggest championships several times. You won all the individual awards you could and to top it all off, you and the team were able to secure equal pay.”
Rapinoe has been involved in the women’s team’s equal pay complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since at least 2016. In March 2019, she, along with 27 of her U.S. women’s soccer teammates, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, accusing it of gender discrimination. , in the hope of achieving equal pay.
In May of the following year, a judge dismissed key parts of the lawsuit, including the complaint about receiving lower pay than the U.S. men’s national team, but allowed other claims to proceed to trial.
Rapinoe has long been an advocate for the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sports, and has characterized the issue as part of a larger effort to “remove people’s full humanity through legislation.”
British-American broadcaster Roger Bennett – host of NBC’s Men in Blazers – praised Rapinoe’s “courage”, adding that she is “unafraid” and “unapologetic.”
A football player who has transcended our football bubble,” Bennett further said, as three-time Olympic gold medalist and skier Mikaela Sheffrin, First Gentleman Doug Enhoff and former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. also joined in celebrating the career of the two-time World Cup winner. .
Minority owner commander and basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, ex-US women’s soccer teammate Ali Krieger and Rapinoe’s siblings, Rachael and Austin, as well as her parents, Jim and Denise, also paid tribute to the 2012 London Olympics gold medalist .
Fans honored Rapinoe at Lumen Field on Friday by placing giant banners in the stands
Rapinoe (L) receives a kiss from her twin sister Rachael (R) during her final regular season NWSL home game
Rapinoe’s mother, Denise (C), and partner, Sue Bird (right), cheer on fans before Friday’s game
Harvey, who hails from Nuneaton, England, broke down in tears while sitting next to Rapinoe during a pre-match press conference ahead of the star’s final home game of the regular season, even going so far as to say that the former captain of the VS helped her reveal to friends and family that she had been romantically interested in women in the past.
Rapinoe has been engaged to WNBA legend Sue Bird since 2020. She publicly came out in July 2012, after previously stating that she knew she was a lesbian during her freshman year of college at the University of Portland.
“I think I’ve said this a lot and you know, even though I was a young coach when I came out at 32 and I never really lived authentically,” Harvey told reporters. “And I think, you know, when you’re around someone like (Megan)… she gives you the platform to think that you can be whatever you want to be.”
The Reign presented an award to celebrate Rapinoe’s retirement before she took the court on Friday.
Her career was commemorated with a “Forever Reign, Forever Rapinoe” flag raised at Lumen Field by Mike McCready, the founder of the Seattle-based rock band Pearl Jam.
In an interview with CBS prior to her final home game with the Reign, Rapinoe was asked if she thought her legacy had “left the game in a better place” than when it first started.
“Come on,” the Redding, California, resident said before raising her hands in a sign of acknowledgment. ‘Naturally. It’s not just me and I say it a bit arrogantly, but only because I speak for all the players of my generation.
I think this generation of players has changed the game forever and it’s up to the next generation to take the platform they’re on now to places we didn’t even know were possible.
‘Move the ball forward.’
Rapinoe is a winner of the Women’s Ballon d’Or and was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2019, in addition to her two World Cup titles and the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. She also played for the USA at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011, where the team finished in second place.
Rapinoe served as co-captain of the national team with Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan from 2018 to 2020. She previously played for the Red Stars, Philadelphia Independence and MagicJack in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), as well as Olympique Lyon in France’s first women’s division. football.
Rapinoe was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. In July last year, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Joe Biden.