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Megan Rapinoe reflects on US national team ‘lasting impact’ ahead of final match before retirement

By Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — US Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe, a two-time Women’s World Cup winner, said she is most proud of her team’s advocacy work off the field, as she reflected on her career ahead of her final match on Sunday.

The 38-year-old, who will finish her 17-year international career with 203 caps, will be honored in her “farewell game” against South Africa in Chicago, US Soccer announced last month.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday before her last international match, Rapinoe said what her national team has accomplished off the field “has made such a lasting impact.”

Rapinoe said her team has been a “big part” of efforts to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice within sports, especially women’s sports. She said the team’s accomplishments on the field “pales in comparison to what we’ve achieved off the field.”

With 63 career goals and 73 assists for the US women’s side, Rapinoe – an Olympic gold medalist from London 2012 – ranks in the top 10 for both categories in US women’s history.

Although Rapinoe is set to play in a few last matches with her National Women’s Soccer League team, Seattle’s OL Reign, the star player said she most looks forward to having free time post-retirement.

“I’m looking forward to my schedule being a little bit more open, I’m also a little scared about that,” Rapinoe said, adding she intends to continue to support women’s sports. “I obviously know that this is an ending of one chapter, but it feels very much like a beginning.”

Julie Ertz, who was part of the national team that won two World Cups along with Rapinoe, played her final match with the national team on Thursday night.

Rapinoe got teary-eyed when asked about how she has grown up alongside her teammates, including Becky Sauerbrunn, who she has played the sport with since they were 16 years old.

“We really do grow up together, we spend more time here than we do with our family or with our partners or our loved ones,” she said.

The star player, billed a “generational talent” by national team general manager Kate Markgraf, won the Ballon d’Or Féminin and FIFA’s The Best award in 2019 after a scintillating Women’s World Cup in which she earned the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament and Golden Boot for top scorer of the competition.

In her domestic career, she won the French league title and French Cup with Lyon in the 2012/13 season and has won three National Women’s Soccer League Shields with the Seattle Reign and OL Reign.

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