Let’s face it: there will never be another Abby Wambach. Tonight USWNT closes an incredible chapter in it’s history, when Wambach retires after the final match of her team’s 10-match victory tour tonight in New Orleans. Wambach’s determination and passion have been unmatched during her 14-year international career.
USWNT has a bright future, but Wambach is an important part of our nation’s soccer history. When she retires tonight, she will do so as the most prolific goalscorer in international soccer. Here are some major achievements and USWNT records from her career:
186 Goals – more international goals than any man or woman
2012 FIFA World Player of the Year
In 2015, she was one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People”
Her header against Brazil in 2011 was the latest goal ever scored in a World Cup
Most goals in one game – 5 (tied with five others)
Most Yellow Cards (27)
44 Multi-Goal Games
Here’s a look back at Wambach’s best moments with Team USA:
“Of the 18 minutes I was in the game, Mia (Hamm) was yelling at me for all of them.”
Those are Wambach’s words, reflecting on her first-ever appearance for USWNT. That was in 2001, when Wambach came on as a late substitute during a 4-1 victory over Germany. When she finally got the chance to start, she made it count. Wambach’s first goal came seven minutes into her first start, on a low blast in a friendly against Finland. USA went on to win 3-0, and Wambach went on to be a fixture in the starting lineup.
One of Wambach’s most memorable goals happened in her hometown. Sitting at 99 career international goals, Wambach and USWNT were in Rochester, New York, for a 2009 friendly with Canada. Wambach had several chances in the game, but it took until the 79th minute for her to finally net the milestone. With her family and friends in the crowd, Wambach was swarmed by her USA teammates and bench. Fast forward to 3:40 for the goal, and then zip ahead to the six-minute mark to hear from Wambach herself.
Wambach, the ultimate competitor, probably wouldn’t consider this one of her top goals. In a 2013 friendly against South Korea, Wambach passed Mia Hamm with her 159th international goal. It’s not only an American record, not only a women’s record, but it’s the most international goals from any person in history.
You can’t put together a list of Wambach moments without this one. Voted as the greatest goal in Women’s World Cup history, Wambach rescued Team USA with a stunning late header from Megan Rapinoe. The goal forced a 2-2 tie against Brazil, and they went on to win the quarterfinal match in penalty kicks. The goal is the epitome of everything soccer fans love about Wambach: scoring goals, coming through in the clutch, and never giving up until the final whistle. Wambach’s hustle put her in position in the final minute, and she scored the latest goal ever scored in a World Cup match.
Even with all the goals, one thing eluded Wambach: a World Cup medal. Wambach played sparingly during the 2015 Cup run, but was a key player on the sideline and in the huddle. She came on in the second half of the final against Japan, and was given the captain’s armband from Carli Lloyd. Despite all the doubts and criticisms, USWNT battled early struggles and claimed their first WWC title since 1999.
If you still can’t get enough Wambach, here’s ten minutes of USA goals courtesy of number 20.