The lights from Lumen Field lit up the skyline on a brisk Friday night in early October. Fans gathered in droves around the outside of the stadium. A mixture of excitement and hesitation filled the air. Such a historic night was ahead, but not without the closing of a chapter that has come to shape so much of Seattle’s soccer culture.
It was the final regular season home match of the beloved Megan Rapinoe — the legendary OL Reign forward who will be retiring at the end of this season after a decade with the team. In her tenure, Rapinoe has emerged as one of the most defining soccer players of the last decade, winning two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal. Off the field, she played a major role in issuing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination. She was later awarded a Presidential Medal of Honor for her victory in helping to close the gender pay gap in professional soccer.
OL Reign played their inaugural NWSL season at Starfire Sports back in 2013. After a decade-long stint of training in Tacoma, they returned to Starfire last year due to its proximity to their new home stadium, Lumen Field, in downtown Seattle. Starfire Sports — which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year — has long been a central hub of soccer and culture here in the Pacific Northwest, so it was only natural to have the team back at their original training facility.
Ahead of the game, fans displayed their Rapinoe merch and looks, sporting extensions, wigs, facepaint, and other rose-colored regalia. Lumen Field was a sea of pink, alive with music, people, and celebration.
As fans gathered into their seats, a video tribute of Rapinoe’s career began — featuring family, competitors and colleagues, fellow sports icons, and elected leaders celebrating her remarkable career. The memories brought smiles and tears across the stadium. As the video concluded, a massive “THANK YOU MEGAN” message spelled out by adoring fans in the lower bowl popped into view across the pitch.
The match was a fierce defensive battle. Megan, along with all the players on the pitch, dazzled fans with incredible footwork and explosive action, but by the 90-minute mark, no team had been able to put one away. It ended in a 0-0 tie, thanks in large part to the incredible saves by goalkeeper Claudia Dickey, who later earned NWSL Save of the Week for her strategic dive into the left side of the goal.
The crowd was electric, and soccer fans from all over showed up in support of one of our city’s greatest stars. Game attendance was the highest in NWSL’s 10-year history across all teams, with 34,130 people filling the stands.
Since our chance to see her play, Rapinoe has played a massive role in sending her team to the playoffs, scoring two goals in their must-win final match of the season. Now the team is looking for a win in the semifinals on November 5 against the San Diego Wave FC to send them into their third finals appearance and the chance to win their first NWSL championship title. Regardless of the outcome, Megan will forever be our champion!