Lavelle: NWSL final with Krieger, Rapinoe ‘poetic’

Two-time Women’s World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has added one final stop on her farewell tour, with her OL Reign side beating the top-ranked San Diego Wave to reach the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship on Saturday.

The 2019 Ballon d’Or winner bid a bitter goodbye to the global stage as the United States crashed out in the last 16 of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in August.

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But the Olympic gold medallist could add one more accolade to her resume before calling time, as her team faces Gotham FC — including her fellow soon-to-be-retiree and former national teammate Ali Krieger — in the NWSL title match.

“It’s like the battle of the two people retiring,” said OL Reign midfielder and U.S. national team veteran Rose Lavelle, who assisted forward Veronica Latsko‘s goal in Reign’s 1-0 win at San Diego on Sunday.

“It seems a bit poetic that the championship game is ending with Krieger and Pinoe’s last game.”

The 38-year-old and her team have won the NWSL Shield for finishing top of the regular season standings three times in her career. But the championship trophy has eluded her so far.

The Seattle-based team and Gotham both overcame tough odds to reach the title match this year, with the sixth-seeded New York/New Jersey side beating the 2022 champions Portland Thorns in their respective semifinal.

“The fairytale is Pinoe and Kriegs, it’s a great story,” OL Reign coach Laura Harvey told reporters. “You don’t write a better script than that.”

OL Reign will play Gotham FC on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.

On Monday, it was announced that Krieger was named to the NWSL Best XI side alongside Golden Boot winner Sophia Smith and her Thorns teammate Sam Coffey.

The San Diego Wave (defender Naomi Girma and midfielder Jaedyn Shaw) and Krieger’s Gotham and U.S. teammate Lynn Williams were also on the first team.

The rest of the NWSL Best XI consisted of Houston Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell, Angel City defender Sarah Gorden, Washington Spirit defender Sam Staab, Kansas City Current midfielder Debinha and North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin.

“It is an honor to recognize the 22 remarkable players named to this year’s Best XI teams,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “The Best XI distinction is a testament to the talent, grit and dedication with which each of these athletes competed all season long, and the NWSL, alongside our partners at Mastercard, congratulates them on achieving this incredible feat.”

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