Rapinoe, Krieger wrap careers with NWSL title at stake
ANNE M. PETERSON Associated Press
The National Women’s Soccer League couldn’t have had a better championship final.
Megan Rapinoe of the OL Reign and Ali Krieger of Gotham FC will face off in the final professional match for the two veteran stars on Saturday night in San Diego.
The two-time World Cup winners are retiring after long careers at the club. An NWSL title has eluded both of them so far.
“With Ali, we’ve been through so much together. We played in the biggest games together, we played in the world championship games together and the president was tweeting with us, so I feel in this moment that we are happy to be together,” said Rapinoe. “I think we wish each other the best. We are so proud and proud of each other.”
Rapinoe announced before the Women’s World Cup this summer that she was retiring from the game after a career that included two World Cup titles, an Olympic gold medal and an Olympic bronze.
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At the 2019 World Cup in France, Rapinoe scored six goals, including a penalty in the final against the Netherlands. Her victory at the final was one of the most iconic images of the dominant run in the United States.
Krieger was also on that team, prompting reactionary tweets from former President Donald Trump about whether the United States would visit the White House if he won the title. The Americans won and did not visit the White House.
Both players were on the US World Cup team that also won the title in 2015.
Rapinoe played her last game with the United States in September, but the NWSL title game will mark her final appearance for the Reign after 11 seasons with the club. She is one of five players across the league who have remained with the same team since the launch of the NWSL.
Krieger, 39, announced before the start of the season that it would be his last.
Krieger’s club life has spanned around 16 years, with stops in Germany and Sweden. She won the Champions League title with Frankfurt. At home, she played for the Washington Spirit before a long stint with the Orlando Pride from 2016 to 2021.
At the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals, Krieger scored the match-winning penalty kick following a 2–2 draw against Brazil. The Americans lost penalties to Japan that year. In total, Krieger made 108 appearances for the United States.
“It’s such a Cinderella ending for Krieger, and Pinoe. They have given so much of themselves to this game,” said Gotham starter Lynn Williams. “I think they are both equally deserving.”
Krieger said Friday that she is very proud of how she is seeing the results of some of the things she suggested. She said that when the NWSL launched in 2013, she was fighting to wear socks during training.
“To see where it is now, and to see what we have, and to come here and feel this final, we deserve the social media, and all the media attention we’re doing. I mean, definitely just the level of professionalism was amazing,” she said.
The league announced Thursday a new media rights deal worth $60 million a year. The package will put NWSL games on the broadcast and streaming platforms of CBS Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video and Scripps Sports for the next four years.
Attendance at NWSL games this season has also increased by 36%. The San Diego Wave led the league with an average of 20,718 fans per home game.
Gotham finished 8-7-7 this season and earned the final spot in the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. 6. The team eliminated North Carolina and the Portland Thorns – both on the road – to reach the final.
The Reign was the No. 1 seed. 4 after finishing 9-8-5, and downed Angel City and the San Diego Wave in the postseason.
North Carolina forward Kerolin Courage was named league MVP on Friday after a vote by the players, staff, media and fans. She scored 10 goals for Courage this season.
The league’s other postseason award winners: Gotham’s Jenna Nighswonger was named Rookie of the Year, San Diego’s Naomi Girma was named Defender of the Year, Houston’s Jane Campbell was named Defender of the Year and Gotham’s Juan Carlos Amorós was named Coach of the Year.
A new trophy
Tiffany & Co. collaborated. and the League on a new championship trophy made of 24K gold vermeil and sterling silver to be awarded for the first time this year. The trophy had not been renewed since the league’s opening season.
Tiffany also designed the league MVP trophy.
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