What happened at Megan Rapinoe’s final USWNT game

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(CHICAGO) — After over 200 appearances on the field with the U.S. women’s national soccer team, Megan Rapinoe played her final game Sunday.

Rapinoe, a former USWNT co-captain, donned the captain’s armband one last time on Sunday and helped lead her team to a 2-0 victory against South Africa at Chicago’s Soldier Field, ending her international soccer career on a high note.

“I know that I am a liked player, and I know that I mean a lot to the game,” Rapinoe said, addressing the crowd after the game, according to the Associated Press. “But to have this night come and to actually feel it and see it — from my teammates, from our staff and certainly from the fans, who have been such a huge part of our success on and off the field, really — it was very special.”

On Sunday, when Rapinoe exited the game in the 54th minute, she hugged her teammates as the crowd at Soldier Field gave her a standing ovation.

After the game, Rapinoe’s teammates spoke about what she has meant to them personally and to the sport.

“It’s really hard for me because I’m losing, just, an idol,” midfielder Lindsey Horan said of Rapinoe, according to the AP. “It’s hard. That’s what you’ve looked up to. It’s another reason why you fall in love with the game, those kinds of players that you watch on TV do those things. And you come in and now you’re training with them everyday? It’s freakin’ wild.”

“She radiates acceptance and love,” added Midge Purce, forward for the USWNT.

Rapinoe, 38, announced in July that she would retire from professional soccer at the end of this season.

During her history-making career, Rapinoe scored over 60 goals and made over 70 assists in USWNT games. She also won two World Cups, gold and bronze Olympic Medals, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot.

Off the field, Rapinoe helped lead the fight for gender equity, a fight that culminated in a landmark deal that now sees the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams receiving the same pay and being provided the same working conditions.

Rapinoe and the rest of the women’s team fell short of winning a third World Cup earlier this summer with the team’s heartbreaking loss to Sweden early in the tournament.

Following that loss, Rapinoe reflected on the sport she loves and the teammates she competed with.

“This game is so beautiful, even in its cruelest moments,” Rapinoe wrote on Instagram at the time. “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.”

She ended her post with a note of gratitude, writing, “It has been my honor to play for our country, with so many incredible woman, for so many years,” she said. “Thank you, a million times over.”

Rapinoe has three more games to play with Seattle’s OL Reign through the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season.

She is scheduled to play her final home game in Seattle on Oct. 6, and her final regular season NWSL game on Oct. 15, back in Chicago against the Chicago Red Stars.

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