Rapinoe gets triumphant send-off as USA beat South Africa
CHICAGO, USA (AP):
Megan Rapinoe got a triumphant send-off, and the United States of America (USA) beat South Africa 2-0 yesterday.
Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored, and the USA sent their captain towards retirement with one final victory as a member.
The 38-year-old Rapinoe was presented a framed jersey representing her 203 games with the USA prior to the win, and she raised her arms as the crowd roared.
Rodman gave the USA more to celebrate when she drilled the ball into the net off a cross from Alex Morgan in the 18th minute. Rapinoe was the first to hug her.
Sonnett made it 2-0 with a header in the 49th minute and then jumped into Rapinoe's arms. Rapinoe came close to scoring but missed just high on a free kick.
She exited the international stage for one final time to a standing ovation in the 54th minute, kissing and hugging her teammates while blowing a kiss to the crowd and bowing.
Rapinoe announced in July that she was retiring after an illustrious career that included a pair of Women's World Cup championships, gold and bronze medals in the Olympic Games and countless victory poses with her feet together and arms raised wide as she grinned ear to ear. She used her platform to make an impact beyond the pitch, fighting for equal pay and social justice.
In recent weeks, she's been showing her emotions.
Rapinoe let them flow following the USA's loss to Sweden at this summer's Women's World Cup, knowing it would be her last tournament. She did it again last weekend when she played her final rivalry match between her NWSL team, OL Reign, and the Portland Thorns.
Rapinoe still has a few more regular-season games for the Reign, including a send-off match for local fans in Seattle on October 6, before her career ends.
She entered her final match for the USA with 63 goals, including two directly from corner kicks at the Olympic Games. At the 2019 World Cup in France, she scored six goals and took home the Golden Ball as the top player.
Besides establishing herself as one of the best to play the game, she led the long fight for equal pay with the men's national team.