Dropped in during Thursday’s press conference to announce NWSL’s new partnership with A+E Networks was the nugget that Christie Rampone will be honored at next month’s SheBelieves Cup.
When Sunil Gulati came to the podium he opened with a joke about A+E President and CEO, Nancy Dubuc getting more applause than he did. Then he briefly turned his attention to Christie Rampone who was also seated at the dais.
“I haven’t seen Christie in quite awhile because she retired from the national team,” Gulati said. “But she’s still playing and we’re going to honor her in about a month at a game.”
Reading between the lines, it seems the honor will come at Red Bull Arena when the U.S. face England in the middle leg of the SheBelieves Cup. That match is at Red Bull Arena in Rampone’s home state of New Jersey. The New Jersey native made 311 appearances for the United States, second only to Kristine Lilly. She was a bench player on the 1999 World championship team, played in the next four Olympics winning three golds and a silver, and was still on the team in 2015 when the United States reclaimed the World Cup. Jill Ellis invited her to camp ahead of the 2016 Olympics but she withdrew her name saying she was not prepared for the rigors of the international game. She still played for Sky Blue FC though, logging all 1,800 minutes during the season and being named to the league’s second XI.
Gulati’s reference to Rampone being retired from the national team appears to be the first time that word has been used to describe her status. His reference to her still playing is another in a long line of subtle hints that at 41, Rampone intends to continue her NWSL career at Yurcak Field this summer.