Megan Rapinoe said her decision to announce her retirement before the Women’s World Cup will help the United States better focus on its bid to win a third world title.
The 38-year-old forward, who will retire at the end of the 2023 Women’s National Super League season, said on Wednesday that speculation about her future as a player would have been a lingering story for her and the USWNT this summer.
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“I’m obviously 38 years old, I’m not going to play forever and it always feels weird for me to have something figured out and feel at peace and not answer a question honestly,” Rapinoe said. “I kind of wanted to have that to myself.
“I think it allows me to focus a lot more, it allows the team to focus a lot more. We don’t have to get questions every time, every game. It’s just out there and I can really enjoy it and focus on trying to win the tournament.”
Rapinoe said she wants to add to her two Women’s World Cup titles this summer, but she also wants to inspire young New Zealand women to play soccer.
“I think especially those of us who have been here for a long time, it certainly wasn’t like that at every World Cup that we’ve been a part of our entire career,” Rapinoe said.
“I think we can really see and feel the game grow and the world change around us.
“I know what it meant to me to be able to see Mia Hamm up close or see Brandi Chastain up close when I was younger, so I hope it’s an inspiration to them, but I think it’s an inspiration to us as well.”
Rapinoe praised the training facilities Team USA has experienced since arriving in Auckland, saying the cold and wet weather was not a concern.
As for her hair, Rapinoe said she brought a range of colors to New Zealand and fans can expect regular changes.
The USWNT kick off their campaign for a third consecutive title, and fifth overall, against Vietnam at Eden Park on July 22 before facing the Netherlands and Portugal at the World Cup, which is being co-hosted by Australia.
Forward Alex Morgan said arriving in the host country for a World Cup generates a mix of “nerves, anticipation and excitement” and that while there are many similarities to previous editions, this one “is going to be the best.” .”
“We have 32 teams in the World Cup like never before, so it will be very competitive, it will be the most watched World Cup,” Morgan said.
Information from Reuters contributed to this story.