Buidling Dreams Together


One Last Battle: Krieger and Rapinoe’s Fight For NWSL Title

A Gotham FC versus OL Reign NWSL championship final is a nostalgic spectacle for devoted USWNT enthusiasts, as the careers of Ali Krieger and Megan Rapinoe culminate in a head-to-head clash during their career farewell matches.

Last Saturday, Krieger led Gotham to a 1-0 win against the Portland Thorns in extra time, becoming the first to clinch their spot in the final. After finishing at the bottom of the league in 2022, Gotham has implemented significant changes to turn their fortunes around, aiming to potentially secure the NWSL Champions title for the first time in club history.

Less than an hour later, Reign earned themselves a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Wave, overcoming their semifinal setback from the previous year. An unlikely cross from Veronica Latsko ended in a goal that left Snapdragon Stadium stunned in the 47th minute, pushing Reign into the finals.

What is already a critical game holds more significant implications than some may realize as Krieger and Rapinoe announced their retirement earlier this season, well before knowing their teams would reach the NWSL finals.

In what could be the league’s most high-profile game yet, only one can walk away from their career as a professional football player with an NWSL Championship title. 

The lifelong best friends will end their careers on the same day and on the same field. 

Those who do not believe in manifestation need to take notes from Krieger as she shared a text message from September between the two friends on her Instagram story, poking fun at when their last games for their clubs will be.

While they both had very different pathways, the end of their careers is almost “poetic,” USWNT and OL Reign teammate Rose Lavelle said.

Rapinoe, a California native, had the traditional pathway that most national team players have – developed through youth programs, onto University, and ending up on the USWNT full-time after graduating. 

On the other hand, Krieger made a name for herself overseas in Germany after attending Penn State University. She had made appearances for the USWNT U23 but didn’t make her official USWNT appearance until two years after graduating in 2008. 

Rapinoe had already been with the team since 2006. 

Since then, both have made significant differences in the USWNT, winning two consecutive FIFA World Cups.

VANCOUVER, BC – JUNE 16: Megan Rapinoe #15 directs her teammate Sali Krieger #11 of the United States for play during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 Group D match between Nigeria and The United States June, 16, 2015 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Rapinoe ended her USWNT career this past September following their upsetting 2023 FIFA World Cup run. After 17 years as a professional football player, she finished her national team run with 202 appearances, 63 goals, and 73 assists. 

Her trophy cabinet includes: 

  • Ballon d’Or Féminin: 2019
  • NWSL Shield: 2014, 2015, 2022
    • Second XI: 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019
    • Best XI: 2018
  • The Women’s Cup: 2022
  • FIFA World Cup: 2015, 2019
    • Golden Ball: 2019
    • Golden Boot: 2019
  • Olympic Gold Medal: 2012
  • Olympic Bronze Medal: 2021
  • Algarve Cup: 2011, 2013, 2015
    • MVP: 2013
  • CONCACAF Championship: 2014, 2018, 2022
  • SheBelieves Cup: 2018, 2020, 2021, 2023
  • Tournament of Nations: 2018
  • IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker: 2019
  • IFFHS World Team: 2019
  • The Best FIFA Player: 2019
  • FIFPro World XI: 2019, 2020
13 June 2009: Washington’s Ali Krieger (left) and Chicago’s Megan Rapinoe (8). The Washington Freedom and the Chicago Red Stars played to a 0-0 tie at the RFK Stadium in Washington, DC in a regular season Women’s Professional Soccer game. (Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

Krieger, while a much shorter run with the USWNT, still impressed on the World stage and at a club level. The defender ended her USWNT career in 2021 with 108 appearances, one goal, and nine assists. 

Her professional career accomplishments include:

  • German Cup Champion: 2008, 2011
  • UEFA Champions League Champion: 2008
  • Fussball-Bundesliga Champion: 2008
  • Washington Post Distinguished All-Met Award: 2013
  • Algarve Cup: 2013, 2015
  • NWSL Best XI Second Team: 2013, 2016
  • NWSL Best XI First Team: 2014, 2017, 2019, 2023
  • Captain of Washington Spirit: 2014, 2015, 2016
  • CONCACAF Championship: 2014
  • FIFA World Cup: 2015, 2019
    • Fox Soccer’s Best XI of FIFA World Cup: 2011
  • W-League Championship: 2007
  • DFB-Pokal Frauen: 2009, 2011
  • SheBelieves Cup: 2016, 2020
  • CONCACAF Championship: 2014
  • FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2016

On Saturday, only one will add to their list of trophies, as neither has yet to take home an NWSL Championship. 

Whatever the result is, Saturday’s match is bound to be an exciting one to watch.

Gotham and Reign have not faced each other since May 21, when Gotham earned an astounding 4-1 win on the road. However, Reign has been the dominant winner throughout the history between the two.

After naming Juan Carlos Amorós as head coach of Gotham before the beginning of the season, it was clear that what he was expecting from this team was nothing short of the best. As soon as the season began, it was clear that the Gotham that finished last previously was not the same club. 

OL Reign has been a prominent team in the league since the start. However, having been in the playoffs every year since 2019, they are still yet to clinch the championship title. In 2022, they ended up at the top of the league table, winning the NWSL Shield but falling short in the quarterfinals.

Both teams on their own path of redemption, create a highly anticipated game that is bound to bring drama and tears as two legends end their professional careers.

It was announced this week that three Gotham players received spots on the 2023 Best XI first and second teams, but no Reign players earned either. 

What is bound to be the perfect ending to only one of their careers is a heartbreaking goodbye for many fans. 

Saturday’s game will be held at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California, at 5 p.m. PT. Broadcasting differs by country but will be shown on CBS locally.

Written by