When people think of the USWNT, they automatically think of Abby Wambach. Wambach has been a archetypal player for the USWNT for the past 14 years. She holds the team together, and she knows when to push her teammates around. This summer’s World Cup will be her fourth, and likely the final World Cup for the star. This is her last chance at the coveted World Cup Championship title.
“International friendlies, they mean something, but what you want is to play on the biggest stage, play under the lights. When it gets to be that time, like now, something turns on inside me.” – Abby Wambach.
Wambach started on her path to an illustrious career at the age of four. During her first junior season, Wambach’s coach transferred her from the girls’ youth team to the boys’ team. In high school Wambach scored 142 goals and was named NSCAA Regional Player of the Year, NSCAA State of New York Player of the Year.
Wambach was considered the top college recruit of the graduating class of 1997. She had offers from all the top soccer programs in the United States, but in the end she chose the University of Florida. Her first year at Florida, she led her team to the NCAA National Championship where they beat UNC 1-0. Wambach continued to turn heads and set school records throughout her four years. In 1998, she was the SEC Freshman of the Year, a freshman All-American, and a first-team All-SEC selection. In 2000 and 2001, she was SEC Player of the Year and she received SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player. She set school records for goals (96), assists (50), and hat tricks (10).
In 2001, Wambach earned her first US Soccer cap when she was subbed on in the 79th minute on September 9, 2001 during a match against Germany. In her professional career, Wambach was selected second during the first round of the 2002 WUSA Draft by the Washington Freedom. She went on to score ten goals in 13 games and was named WUSA Rookie of the year. As the years went on, Wambach continued to make a name for herself on the International stage and in the US Women soccer leagues.
Wambach’s career includes four World Cups, and three summer Olympics. In these five tournaments, she has played in 29 matches and scored 22 goals. Wambach has also won two gold medals, finished third twice and finished second twice at the Women’s World Cup. In 2013, Wambach broke Mia Hamm’s scoring record and it also became the all-time leader in multiple-goal games with 43.
At the beginning of the 2015 NWSL season came a turning point — Wambach made the decision to forego playing the whole season to focus on the World Cup. Most criticized her decision, but at this point in Wambach’s life she knows what her body can handle and how to prepare for a World Cup. This is probably Wambach’s last World Cup, but maybe not. Wambach plays with a fire and passion that few other USWNT players have. She not only has an eye for how to play the ball to er teammates, but her goal scoring ability is second to none. Although she’s had a few injuries, she still plays like she’s a teenager. I have no doubt that this summer will be Wambach’s best world cup performance. She wants to go out on top, and she has all the tools to do it.