Megan Rapinoe said it has been an “honor” to play for the United States after making her fourth and final appearance at a Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe, who has made more than 200 appearances for the national team, missed her spot kick as the US was knocked out of the World Cup in a dramatic penalty shootout against Sweden on Sunday.
Before the tournament, the 38-year-old announced that this would be her final year as a professional soccer player and she now returns to her National Women’s Soccer League team, OL Reign, for the remainder of the season.
“This game is so beautiful, even in its cruelest moments,” Rapinoe wrote on Instagram on Wednesday. “This group was so very special, and I am immensely proud of every single one of us.
“This team is in special hands as I walk away, just like it always was, and always will be. Because that is what this team is all about. We lay it all out on the line every single time. Fighting with everything that we have, for everything we deserve, for every person we possibly can.
“It has been my honor to play for our country, with so many incredible woman [sic], for so many years. Thank you, a million times over.”
The defeat against Sweden condemned the US to its earliest ever exit at a World Cup and signaled an end to the team’s dreams for an unprecedented “three-peat.”
Rapinoe now departs international soccer with 63 goals, 73 assists, two world titles and the 2019 Ballon d’Or Féminin – awarded to the best player in the women’s game.
In addition to her on-field achievements, Rapinoe is well-known for her work on social issues, including LGBTQ+ rights, racial inequality and pay equity. In 2022, she became the first soccer player to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Speaking to Fox Sports after the defeat against Sweden, Rapinoe called it a “sick joke” and “dark comedy” that the US had dominated much of the game before being knocked out in cruel fashion on penalties.