Either Megan Rapinoe of the OL Reign or Ali Krieger of Gotham FC was going to walk off the pitch and into retirement with the National Women’s Soccer League trophy.
Krieger got the trophy. Rapinoe got a heartbreaking end to her brilliant career as she limped off the field for the last time with an apparent torn right Achilles tendon suffered in the first few minutes.
World Cup winner Esther González scored the go-ahead goal on a header in first-half stoppage time and Gotham FC survived a wild final minute to beat OL Reign 2-1 on Saturday night in a NWSL championship match where Rapinoe hobbled off the pitch for good.
“You don’t always get to have the perfect ending,” said Rapinoe, who was in good spirits afterward and wearing a walking boot on her right foot. “I’ve had so many perfect endings, even just thinking back to 2019, that was the most perfect whole script you could ever write personally and as a team, just what it meant. On balance, I don’t think anything that negative about it,” although she joked that she’s now just a normal person facing surgery and rehab.
OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe (right) stays down after an injury as teammates midfielder Rose Lavelle (16) and midfielder Jess Fishlock, center, check on her during the first half of the NWSL Championship soccer game against NJ/NY Gotham, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)