U.S. women’s national team midfielder Heather O’Reilly has announced her retirement from international soccer after a 15-year run with the team.
O’Reilly will play her final international match on Sept. 15 against Thailand in Columbus, Ohio.
A New Jersey native who played at North Carolina, O’Reilly made her debut with the U.S. team at age 17. Now 31, she has 230 international appearances, ranking her seventh in national team history. She has 46 career goals with the team, 12th on the national team career list, and 54 assists, good for sixth.
She has won three Olympic gold medals with the team, as well as a World Cup title last summer in Canada.
“I have spent nearly half my life in a U.S. Soccer uniform, so making the decision to retire from international play was incredibly hard and emotional,” O’Reilly said in a statement Thursday. “But quite simply, after 230 caps, thousands of practices, many trips around the world, and having played in three World Cups, and three Olympics, it just feels like the right time.
“I’ve had an incredibly complete career playing for my country and it has been an absolute honor to represent the USWNT for the last 15 years. I’m leaving this team with a lot of happiness in my heart and pride for what we’ve accomplished. I truly love this game and it will be in my life forever.”
O’Reilly played her first match at the senior level in 2002 during the Algarve Cup against Sweden. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, O’Reilly scored the winning goal in overtime for a 2-1 U.S. semifinal victory over Germany. She was the youngest player on the team.
O’Reilly subbed in for Mia Hamm in her final match in 2004 and wore Hamm’s No. 9 jersey for the rest of her career.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, she scored 40 seconds into a group-stage match against New Zealand. She scored again in the 4-1 semifinal victory over Japan.
Probably her most memorable goal came at the 2011 World Cup in Germany against Colombia. Struck at distance, it was a finalist for goal of the year.
“Heather has been a vitally important part of our program for many years and has continued to set a standard for professionalism and work ethic,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “She’s been right in the thick of things for most of our big moments over the past 15 years and has always been the ultimate team player and a world-class person. She should be incredibly proud of the indelible impact she’s made on this team and on women’s soccer.”
O’Reilly was an alternate on the U.S. team that played at the Rio de Janeiro Games last month. The Americans were ousted in the quarterfinals by Sweden for the team’s earliest Olympic exit.
O’Reilly said she will continue to play for FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League.