STF Special Report: Thank You, Megan Rapinoe!
A few of us from STF made the trip up to Seattle for Megan Rapinoe's final NWSL home game, and it was a heck of a farewell.
Ed. Note: Yes, we are a Portland Thorns blog, and y’all know we’re BAONPDX for life. But today we set rivalries inside for this Special Report, where the STF crew takes the time to bid farewell to not just an NWSL and USWNT legend, but also a Portland Pilots legend: Megan Rapinoe.
In 2005, Christine Sinclair and Megan Rapinoe led the University of Portland Pilots to their second ever NCAA National Championship.
From that moment on and for her remaining time as a Pilot (2005-2008), she was forever, a Portland soccer icon.
Her love for city was set in stone and the community would always feel the same.
In 2013, the NWSL allocated Christine Sinclair, Tobin Heath, and Rachel Buehler (now Van Hollebeke) to the Portland Thorns. Rapinoe was allocated to the Seattle Reign along with Hope Solo and Amy Rodriguez.
Even through the years of the most heated rivalry in the league, she always loved the Rose City:
I made the trip up to Seattle with The Equalizer’s Taylor Vincent to be there for Megan Rapinoe’s last home game.
Once we arrived, the amount of media waiting to get into the game was astronomical. It seemed like every media outlet, reporter, and writer was there.
Compared to a regular season match, everything just felt bigger, and rightfully so.
NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman held a media session pitchside where she shared league updates, walong hat Rapinoe has meant to the NWSL and also to her.
Shoutout to Seattle for coming out and breaking a new attendance record for the NWSL.
“I’m so excited to have close to 35,000 people here to watch professional women’s soccer. It’s frankly what should be happening” said Berman.
Megan Rapinoe would get to play her final home game with a record NWSL crowd, huge media presence, and her loved ones. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The pregame festivities were full of joy as we got to see all of her family and friends.
Rapinoe was honored before the game by the team and league. Her teammates did not disappoint either.
Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready also hyped up the crowd during the pregame festivities.
Before the opening whistle both USWNT stars, Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez, gave Rapinoe big hugs before the opening whistle.
For the halftime show, Laura Biondo, a 1x World Champ, 2x Latin Champ, and 2x EU Champ, did one heck of a football freestyle.
Thanks to the heroics of Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Claudia Dickey, OL Reign got a much needed point with a 0-0 draw.
During the postgame celebration, almost the entire crowd stayed to say goodbye to one of the best to ever do it. Even the Washington Spirit stayed on the field to congratulate her on a hall of a fame career.
The official attendance would be 34,130. Congratulations to the OL Reign and the city of Seattle for taking over the NWSL record from the San Diego Wave.
Their season's total of attendance surpassed 100,000 fans and that does not include the doubleheader with the Seattle Sounders.
For all of her soccer accomplishments, Megan Rapinoe separates herself for the off-the-field achievements. There will never be anyone like her who stands up and wants the best for everyone. She did whatever she had to do to advocate for those who needed it most even if it meant taking much of the heavy burden.
For everything she has meant to the city of Portland, Rapinoe has also had the same effect in Seattle. The rest of her supporters will remember her heroic soccer feats and the ones off of the pitch too.
"I was a young coach when I came [to the league], I was 32, and I'd never lived authentically, really and I think being around someone - she gives you the platform to think that you can be whatever you want."
“That’s what matters. That’s what really matters” said Rapinoe. “It's a game at the end of the day. What I feel like the point of life is to use what you have to better yourself and make people better around you and to leave with things in a better place"
This will never be enough, but…
Thank You Megan!
Stumptown Footy Crew Thanks Pinoe
There’s so much to say about Pinoe… I feel like anything I say won’t be enough, she means so much to me and so many others. Anyone who has interacted with women’s soccer in any way knows the name Megan Rapinoe. She’s brought so much to the world of women’s sports: equal pay, standing up for what’s right, pink hair and a world class celebration.
She breached mainstream media in 2016 when she knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. The gesture was polarizing at the time but it catapulted her career long association with activism — though I don’t see this ending when she hangs up her boots for good. She also was so involved in so many of the USWNT’s greatest moments: the 2012 Olympics, the 2015 & 2019 World Cups, etc. She played in over 200 matches, scored 63 goals, she was the oldest player on the US to score a World Cup goal, the list could go on and on.
But everyone knows her stats… to me she means so much more.
I started playing soccer in kindergarten and when I finally became aware of professional soccer during the 2012 Olympics, I found her a quick favorite and have been an avid fan ever since. I recently drove up to Seattle to watch her play what very well could be her last home game, because there was no I way I was missing that. I once died my hair to match her iconic pink, and my high school graduation present was flying to France for the women’s World Cup in 2019. She’s been present in my life for so long and to see her retire is still something I struggle to put words to.
She’s also been an out and proud queer woman since 2012, something which I didn’t know I needed to see until I realized myself that I was queer. In so many ways my life has been impacted by hers — I mean I even transferred to the University of Portland partly because she went there… I truly could write a book about how she has impacted my life but I won’t, you all get the idea. My story isn’t unique and that’s what’s amazing, she’s has had such an immense impact on so many.
When I think of Megan Rapinoe, I think of joy. The way she plays soccer makes me see how much she loves and enjoys the beautiful game. For her, soccer is fun. It’s not just a job — it’s the way she expresses herself, it’s her way of living. When she missed her PK in the round of 16 against Sweden, she couldn’t help but laugh because after so many PKs scored in key moments in the past, of course soccer was going to be cruel like that in the twilight of her career. And she knew it because soccer, pretty much like life, can be ironic and cruel sometimes.
But not just that. When I think of Megan Rapinoe, I cannot help myself but think how much she hates, and loves, Portland. That city is part of her, whether as Portland Pilot or when she says “f* Portland.” She’s just part of it. She made the rivalry games fun in a way no other Reign player could do it (except maybe for Jess Fishlock). She made me think “f* Seattle” more than once and for that, I’m grateful she was playing for the other team because she made me live the Cascadia games with passion.
Finally, when I think of Megan Rapinoe the word ‘confidence’ comes to my mind. The FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup is the perfect example of this. Rapinoe was the key woman in that tournament, absorbing pressure like nobody else could do it. If things got ugly and difficult for the USWNT, they only needed to give the ball to her and she would do the rest making it look easy and effortless. I’m sure it wasn’t easy and effortless, but with her attitude on the field she taught me how we have to face life with confidence although we can be scared.
I can’t thank my colleagues enough for joining me in thanking Megan Rapinoe for everything she’s done for them, the sport, and to help others. It means a lot to us to get to share our thoughts and feelings about the future Hall of Famer and legend. She will no doubt continue to be there for people in need.
What is your favorite Megan Rapinoe memory? What will you miss most?