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U.S. women's national team superstar Megan Rapinoe is retiring at the end of the 2023 NWSL season and the Women's World Cup this summer will be her last, she announced on Saturday. The iconic attacker, a clutch player and the team's superstar at the 2019 World Cup, began her international career back in 2006. Now 38, she will go for her third straight World Cup title this summer as the USWNT enter as the favorites with the opener set for July 22 against Vietnam.

"I've been able to have such an incredible career, and this game has brought me all over the world and allowed me to meet so many amazing people," said Rapinoe. "I feel incredibly grateful to have played as long as I have, to be as successful as we've been, and to have been a part of a generation of players who undoubtedly left the game better than they found it. To be able to play one last World Cup and one last NWSL season and go out on my own terms is incredibly special.

"I want to thank my family for being by my side all these years. Thanks to all my teammates and coaches all the way back to my first days in Redding, on to college at the University of Portland and of course thanks to U.S. Soccer, the Seattle Reign and especially Sue [Bird, Rapinoe's partner], for everything. I will forever cherish the friendships and support over the years in this game, and I am beyond excited for one last ride with the national team and [OL] Reign."

Rapinoe currently has 199 caps for the USWNT and will become the 14th player in U.S. history with 200 caps. She has appeared for the team in three different decades, scoring 63 goals and registering 73 assists. 

As she prepares for her fourth Women's World Cup, she will look to build on the titles from 2015 and 2019. At the last World Cup, Rapinoe was player of the tournament, was co-top scorer with teammate Alex Morgan and England's Ellen White with six, and she scored five of her goals in the knockout stage including a penalty in the final.

Here's what to know about her career:

An equal legacy on and off the pitch

Rapinoe will leave the game as one of the most iconic athletes to represent the U.S. national team. She has Olympic medals, World Cup titles was the 2019 World Cup golden ball and boot winner, and is a Ballon D'Or winner. While the list of accolades on the pitch is long, her impact off the field is nearly as long, and her voice for change has been a constant part of her presence for the national team. She's been a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ communities, equal pay, and issues of diversity within the team and in the country.

"You're not just trying to check boxes, but that comes with the youth system. From having out players and from having more black players, and having players that have box braids that are blue, and having players that have short hair, and having diversity in a team so that young kids can actually see that. And we have that on our team. We literally have the young kids that saw it that are now on the team and were able to realize their dream or maybe they didn't always see themselves in the team. 

"I think this team has always represented America and a sense of patriotism that kind of flips that term on its head. We've always done an incredible job of being willing and using our platform to talk about that and to drive that into make sure that that's something that everybody knows is incredibly important to this team. But it's also one of the greatest strengths that this team has. Is that we are all different and we celebrate that difference. We allow ourselves to be our full selves on the field so that we can go out there and do what we love to do best."

Rapinoe was the first player on the team that publically come out as gay in 2012 and was the first white female athlete to kneel in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. She was one of the prominent faces in a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer over equal pay ahead of the 2019 World Cup. She'll, of course, be remembered for epic moments in big tournaments, but future players on the national team will navigate their careers differently because of her involvement in the historic off-field battles and constant calls for change. 

What's next

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski and Rapinoe have been open in her bench role moving forward. She is a different player from the 2019 competition and she'll provide impact during specific game scenarios and be relied upon for her veteran leadership and experience. 

The USWNT will face Wales in a send-off match on Sunday ahead of the 2023 World Cup. The team will then head off to New Zealand to begin group play alongside their Group E opponents the Netherlands, Portugal, and Vietnam.