Sebastian Salazar

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

As U.S. Women’s Soccer star Heather O’Reilly steps into international retirement Thursday night, her soon-to-be former teammates are jumping at the chance to honor O’Reilly one last time.

"She’s the best teammate I ever had,” said Ali Krieger, who has played alongside O’Reilly on the USWNT since 2008. “She’s such an inspiration for so many young athletes, but also for us – her current teammates and the players in the National Women’s Soccer League. She’s been a legend.”

O’Reilly will end her 15-year international career when the U.S. Women face Thailand in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday night.

“She’s motivated me and I know my teammates to want to better themselves every single day,” Krieger said of O’Reilly’s legacy on the national team. “That is something that she can leave us. I’m so happy for her, I’m really proud of her and she continued to inspire me every single day. I wish her all the best and I’m going to miss her like crazy.”

Of all O’Reilly’s teammates, few can appreciate the retiring legend quite like Krieger. The two often featured together on the right side of the U.S. formation, Krieger in defense and O’Reilly just ahead of her in midfield, resulting in a bond that will last beyond their playing days.

“We always say ‘right side – strong side’, so we’re going to hold on to that forever,” Krieger said with a smile. “She’s one of my best friends on the team and I support her decision.”

O’Reilly’s decision was likely made easier by the changing landscape of the national team. After seeing her minutes dwindle during last summer’s successful World Cup run, the 31-year-old veteran was left off the U.S. Olympic Team in August instead traveling to Brazil as an alternate.

Despite that, O’Reilly’s career compares favorably to pretty much every other U.S. international. O'Reilly made her senior international debut while still in high school, and her 230 appearances rank seventh all-time in U.S. Women’s National Team history. 

“It’s so much more than the player that she is and what she’s done for the national team,” said U.S. Women’s National Team forward Crystal Dunn. “It’s her – the person – that I’m going to miss seeing in camps and chatting it up.”

Though they didn’t overlap in Chapel Hill, both Dunn and O’Reilly played collegiately for North Carolina. Thanks to that Tar Heel connection, the duo trained together frequently even when not with the U.S. team.

“She was just one of those people that I looked up to,” Dunn added. “She would kick my butt every single day and I was so in awe that she would go out of her way to help make me better."

MORE SOCCER: STL: 'Tyrant'-like act by Spirit to stifle Rapinoe protest

Spirit players speak out against owner shutting down Rapinoe's protest

Spirit players speak out against owner shutting down Rapinoe's protest

Two days after the Washington Spirit organization changed the timing of their pregame routine in order to preempt Megan Rapinoe’s national anthem protest, Spirit players are speaking out against the team’s decision.

"We respect our owner’s freedom to share his views and we understand his intentions,” read a statement posted on the Spirit website. “But as a team we don’t necessarily agree with those opinions or the actions taken Wednesday evening.” 

The statement - signed ‘all of the players of the Washington Spirit’ - was also posted to Spirit captain, and longtime U.S. Women’s National Team star, Ali Krieger’s personal website. 

“As a team, we were disappointed we were not informed of the plans for the national anthem or given an opportunity to weigh in on the decision,” the statement continued.

The Washington Spirit and Rapinoe’s Seattle Reign FC were still in the locker rooms when the national anthem was played ahead of schedule at Wednesday’s National Women’s Soccer League match between the two teams. 

In an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon, Rapinoe told CSN that she planned to kneel during the national anthem prior to Wednesday's game - as she did before Sunday's NWSL contest between Seattle and the Chicago Red Stars.

Why Rapinoe is 'confident' as USWNT, U.S. Soccer CBA negotiations loom

Why Rapinoe is 'confident' as USWNT, U.S. Soccer CBA negotiations loom

After a contentious start that included a lawsuit from one side and claims of gender-based wage discrimination from the other, it seems the collective bargaining agreement negotiations between U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team are now in a much different place.

“I do feel confident” said U.S. star Megan Rapinoe when asked if she thought negotiations would deliver the equality sought by U.S. players in their well-documented #EqualPlayEqualPay campaign.


“I think we’ll kind of start to get back into the negotiations with the Federation [shortly] and sort of get back into those talks."

Rapinoe was one of five U.S. players named in a March complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by U.S. Soccer.

At the time, lawyers representing the players claimed that the U.S. Women’s National Team was paid approximately four times less than the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Rhetoric between the two sides became more and more heated in the build-up to the Olympics. In a July New York Times article, Rapinoe called out U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati for not attending the CBA negotiations.

“We sort of went a little bit quiet during the Olympics,” Rapinoe acknowledged on Tuesday. "I think both sides were wanting that. We needed to focus on being present at the Olympics and doing everything we could to win games.”

Eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals, the U.S. failed to reach the medal round at the Olympics for the first time since women’s soccer was added to the competition in 1996. 

Despite the disappointment - and loss of potential leverage in negotiations - Rapinoe remains optimistic.

“I think on our side we feel good,” the veteran midfielder added. “I went to both the [women’s soccer] semifinal and final [in Rio] and it was incredible. Just to see how far the sport has come and to know that our team is one of the teams that is kind of blazing the trail is something that I was incredibly proud of.”

The current agreement between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT expires at the end of 2016.