Legendary USWNT players Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger were both playing the final games of their careers last night in one last chance to win a trophy, but faced very different outcomes.
Krieger helped Gotham FC, who finished last in the NWSL in 2022, to their first title in what she called "the perfect ending." But Rapinoe suffered a non-contact injury and left the pitch just three minutes into the game, which would ultimately be a 2-1 loss for her side OL Reign.
Lynn Williams scored the opening goal for Gotham in the 24th minute, equalized just five minutes later by Rose Lavelle. World Cup winner Esther Gonzalez's first-half stoppage time header proved to be the deciding moment.
"You don't always get to have the perfect ending," said Rapinoe, whom Krieger ran up to and embraced as she made the long walk off the pitch after apparently tearing her Achilles.
"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 especially negative about it."
Krieger said she was devastated for her World Cup teammate.
"It's devastating to see one of the best players in the world have to step out because of injury in the first five minutes of the game. To have such a buildup of this moment, to have her of anyone, that was devastating...I was really upset for her."
But for herself, Krieger acknowledged a fitting end to a career that, like Rapinoe's, included two World Cup wins but never a NWSL title before Saturday.
"I don't think I could dream of a better ending for myself. I just want to ride off into the sunset and enjoy this with my family and friends and kids, most importantly, and my teammates. My back hurts, my calves hurt. I love it so much and it's so much fun. But it's time. This is the perfect ending for me."