Love, memories and gratitude piled into Lumen Field on Friday night for one last glimpse of a legend. Megan Rapinoe had already said many goodbyes, and will soon say goodbye to soccer as a sport. But her last National Women’s Soccer League home game in Seattle, for her longtime club, the OL Reign, was the culmination of scripted tributes — which nearly brought Rapinoe to tears before a ball had even been kicked.
The Reign brought her to a midfield podium for a pregame ceremony. Teammates, opponents, and the biggest crowd in NWSL history turned their attention to the stadium’s video board, where famous friends and sports icons, and even Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, congratulated and thanked Rapinoe.
But it was her twin sister Rachael who made her face light up, and her nephew Austin who made her laugh.
And then it was her parents, Denise and Jim, who nearly made her cry.
“I love you sweet Meggy, and I can’t wait to see what’s next,” Denise said.
“You have made me a proud daddy-o,” Jim said. “And I can’t wait for the next chapter — I’m sure it’s gonna be a wild ride. Love ya honey.”
Those were a few of the many highlights of a night to remember. Some 60 friends and family of Rapinoe packed into suites to savor it.
Mike McCready, the lead guitarist of Pearl Jam, raised a commemorative “Forever Rapinoe” flag.
Some of the 34,130 fans in attendance executed a pre-arranged card stunt at kickoff, so that one entire side of the stands could read: “THANK YOU MEGAN.”
Others painted and raised a “tifo,” or massive banner, that screamed: “YOU CHANGED THE GAME. THANK YOU.”
There were more signs and banners scattered throughout Lumen Field. There was even a pumpkin carved with a silhouette of Rapinoe’s iconic pose. There were warmup shirts worn by every Reign player emblazoned with that same pose. There were thank yous from across the Seattle sports landscape.
There was a postgame ceremony too. Most of the 34,130 stuck around to watch it. By the end of the night, there was just about everything — except a much-needed win.
The Reign, arguably the league’s deepest and most talented team, are entangled in an incredibly tight playoff race. Six teams are separated by three points above and below the sixth-place cutoff line. More could join the mess Saturday and Sunday. So, on the season’s penultimate weekend, the Reign desperately craved a win over one of their direct competitors, the Washington Spirit.
But they didn’t get it. Rapinoe had one of the evening’s best opportunities, but couldn’t convert it. The best chance fell to Spirit forward Trinity Rodman in stoppage time, but Reign goalkeeper Claudia Dickey made a stunning save. And the game ended 0-0.
So the Reign will likely need a result next weekend, in what could be the final game of Rapinoe’s unparalleled career. A win would take her to the playoffs one last time. A loss would likely send her off into retirement.
Either way, though, her impact is clear.
There were 2,318 fans at her first Reign game way back in 2013.
There were 34,130 at Friday’s, a new league record, and fresh evidence of enduring superstardom that will follow Rapinoe wherever she goes next.
At the postgame ceremony, Reign head coach Laura Harvey thanked Rapinoe for changing the course of the franchise, then handed the mic to Rapinoe, who surveyed the crowd, and began with four words that said it all.
“This is so amazing.”