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USWNT veteran Heather O’Reilly to retire after 2019 NWSL season

USA' s Heather O'Reilly celebrates her goal, followed by teammate Carli Lloyd after scoring against North Korea during their Group B match of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in Chengdu, China, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)

The 2019 NWSL season will be the last for one of the most decorated American soccer players, Heather O’Reilly.

A 34-year-old midfielder for the North Carolina Courage, O’Reilly announced on social media Friday morning that she will be retiring at the end of the season.

“It’s been a long and beautiful ride,” O’Reilly wrote on Instagram. “For the last 17 years I have competed at the elite level, beginning as a teenager on the USWNT. I’ve played with and against the best players on the planet, and have won many trophies along the way with UNC, the U.S. Women’s National Team, and various professional teams. My tank is not empty yet. I am looking forward to helping the North Carolina Courage this season continue to raise the level for women’s football in the U.S. and globally.”

A native of East Brunswick, N.J., O’Reilly began her career at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She won a pair of College Cups with the Tar Heels while scoring 59 goals and assisting on 49 others.

As a pro, she played for various teams in the now-defunct WPS and NWSL. She also played overseas for Arsenal in 2017 and 2018, scoring three times and assisting on three other goals in 24 appearances. O’Reilly returned to play stateside in June 2018, when the Courage acquired her NWSL rights in a trade with Utah Royals FC. O’Reilly appeared in eight games with the Courage last season as they won the league’s shield, championship and the International Champions Cup.

O’Reilly is perhaps most known for her play with the U.S. women’s national team. She appeared in the Stars and Stripes 231 times from 2002 through 2016, scoring 47 goals. O’Reilly played in three World Cups, appearing in 12 matches, scoring twice and dishing out two assists between the 2007, 2011 and 2015 competitions.

In Olympic play, O’Reilly helped lead the U.S. to three gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012. She scored the game-winner in the 2004 semifinal in Athens against Germany, and notched an important assist in the 123rd minute of the 2012 semifinal against Canada in London.

O’Reilly also helped the U.S. win a U-19 World Cup in 2002, the same year she was named Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. O’Reilly retired from the national team in September 2016.

The 2019 season begins on Saturday for the Courage with a home match against the Chicago Red Stars. O’Reilly will be a valuable player for Paul Riley’s side this season, providing veteran leadership and depth in the midfield.

While O’Reilly isn’t on a World Cup squad, she could miss a few games during it. She’s already started on her post-playing career and will work for Fox Sports as a broadcaster during the World Cup.

“(I’m) looking forward to my work this summer on the other side of the lines with Fox at the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a studio analyst, and am grateful for the opportunity to do so this year,” O’Reilly wrote on Instagram. “I’m very excited to give back to this beautiful game in different ways going forward.”

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