Kristine Lilly Retires As Most-Capped Player In Soccer History

Kristine Lilly is second only to Mia Hamm on the all-time goals scored list. Lilly played in 353 international matches for the United States Women's Team. (via upload.wikimedia.org)

USWNT stalwart has played in 353 international matches, more than twice as many as the previous women's record holder. No other man or woman even has 300 appearances.

Kristine Lilly, the most capped player in the history of international soccer, has announced her retirement. The 39-year-old made 353 international appearances for the United States, leading her teams to five World Cups and three Olympics. Along the way, she scored 130 goals, won two World Cups, two Olympic gold medals, seven Algarve Cups and three CONCACAF Gold Cups.

Her career stretched across four decades and overlapped an era of unmatched dominance for the USWNT. Her teams finished in the top three of every international championship it entered and the U.S. has never been ranked lower than No. 2 since at least 2003.

As a professional, Lilly most recently played for WPS's Boston Breakers. She also played for the WUSA's Boston Breakers. Combined, she scored 17 goals in 79 matches and was named to the first team of three all-league teams.

"The thing that has been so great for me in making this decision is that I’m in such a good place with my life and soccer," Lilly said. "When I look back at everything I’ve been a part of, it’s been great. There are no regrets. The opportunities I’ve had to play with so many great players and be a part of so many great moments has been amazing.

"There are so many people who have supported me through my journey and I really want to thank the U.S. Soccer Federation for their support of women’s soccer, the Boston Breakers, the sponsors and the fans for giving me the opportunity to live out my dreams for the past 24 years."

Lilly started her international career in 1987 as a 16-year-old, a time when women's soccer did not even have a World Cup and just two years after the U.S. first started fielding a team. She retires with more than twice as many international caps as the previous women's record holder (Norway's Heidi Store, 152) and is the only man or women to appear in more than 300 international matches.

It's not just the volume of play that is impressive, though. She is both the youngest U.S. woman to score an international goal and the oldest. Her 130 goals is second only to former U.S. teammate Mia Hamm. She scored in every world championship she played in, except for her first World Cup when she was 20.

"Kristine Lilly has been an integral part of our women’s soccer history, a great ambassador for the game and a tremendous role model for young players in the United States," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "Her accomplishments speak for themselves, but her lasting legacy will be one of a player totally dedicated to the team and doing whatever it took on and off the field to produce success. "

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