Christie Rampone has officially retired from the United States women’s national team (USWNT) but will continue playing for Sky Blue FC in 2017.
The announcement of the 41-year-old Sky Blue captain and defender’s decisions regarding her career was made by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati today during the NWSL and A+E Networks joint press conference to announce the league’s new partnership and broadcast deal with the networks.
“I haven’t seen Christie in quite a while because she retired from the national team, but she’s still playing, and we’re going to honor her in a month at a game” Gulati said when introducing Rampone, who spoke at the event, to the audience.
John Archibald, Vice-President of Communications for Sky Blue FC, confirmed Gulati’s statements saying, “Within the club, the expectation has always been that Christie will be with us when we open preseason in March.”
News of Rampone’s return to Sky Blue comes as a welcome relief for many fans, while her retirement from international competition is far from a surprise. Her last appearance for the USWNT was on September 20, 2015, in a post-World Cup victory tour match against Haiti in Birmingham, Ala. In that match Rampone played 90 minutes and helped the USWNT secure an 8-0 shutout, and it was also the last time she wore the captain’s armband.
A two-time World Cup champion and a three-time Olympic gold medalist, Rampone was first capped by the USWNT in 1997. Since then, she has made 311 appearances and is the second most-capped player in U.S. soccer and world history, second only to Kristine Lilly (354). She was named team captain by former coach Pia Sundhage in 2008 and held that title for eight years until a knee injury in 2015 prevented her from participating in national team duties for an extended amount of time.
Rampone underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of 2015, a fact revealed when she was not included on the USWNT’s January camp roster. Although invited into camp with the USWNT in May 2016, Rampone declined the invitation claiming she was not recovered enough for international competition. Although she did not step foot on the field for the USWNT in 2016, Rampone played every minute of Sky Blue’s 2016 season.
Gulati’s statement at this morning’s press conference also suggests that Rampone will be honored for her USWNT career at the New Jersey leg of the SheBelieves Cup, which will be played at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, March 4. There has been speculation that the New Jersey match may double as a farewell match of sorts for Rampone ever since the location of the matches were announced, and tickets for RBA have been in high demand partly as a result.
Sky Blue FC’s 2017 preseason is scheduled to begin sometime next month, with the NWSL regular season kicking off mid-April. Full team and league schedules are expected to be released mid-February.