by TOM SLATER
It will not be a farewell match in the traditional sense, but U.S. Soccer plans to honor its former captain and New Jersey native Christie Rampone at a doubleheader of the SheBelieves Cup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on March 4
Rampone, the second-most capped women in international soccer history, will be honored in a pregame ceremony before the United States plays England in the second leg of the SheBelieves Cup (France faces Germany in the opening game).
Rampone, a three-sport star at Point Boro High School and in college at Monmouth University, is the final player from the 1999 Women’s World Cup championship team to retire.
“I really couldn’t have asked for more from my career with the national team, not only on the field but also in the relationships I made and the life experiences I was fortunate enough to have,” Rampone said. “As a young girl, I never imagined the things I would get to see and the amazing people I would meet. I’m looking forward to celebrating with friends and family in my home state and seeing the team play England. There are some fantastic young players as well as many of the veterans I played with leading the team, so I know it’s in very good hands.”
Rampone, who plays for Sky Blue in the National Women’s Soccer League, has 311 caps and last wore the armband at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The defender began her international career in 1997. She played on two World Cup teams and on three Olympic gold medal-winning sides.
Her international play was limited in the 2015 World Cup in Canada. She came on in the 86th minute of the 5-2 final against Japan and accepted the cup as the team’s captain.
She sustained a knee injury in the subsequent Victory Tour and underwent surgery in December 2015. Rampone played the final match of her 19-year international career on Sept. 20, 2015, against Haiti in Birmingham, Ala.
She retired from international competition in early 2016 and was not with the United States team at the Rio Summer Games last August.
Rampone did play the entire NWSL schedule with Sky Blue, one of two players on the team to play every minute of all 20 matches. Rampone will continue with Sky Blue in 2017, which is expected to be her final professional season