Abby Wambach is the youngest of seven children. “You fight for talk time, you fight for attention,” says Wambach. “Being good at a sport was an avenue for me to be seen, to be heard. It’s like a five-year-old kid, saying, ‘Watch me, watch me!’”
Her high school gym was covered in state championship banners. If you won a championship, your name went up on the wall. Wambach would see her older sisters’ names up on the wall: Beth won a basketball title, Lauren won one in soccer. “I grew up looking at those banners,” says Wambach. “I wanted my name to be up on the banner like theirs was.”
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP DISASTER
Senior year, state soccer championship. Wambach had her chance to get her name on the wall. Up 3-0 with nineteen minutes left, she thought it was over, but in the next fifteen minutes, she watched her dream fall apart. Her team lost 4-3 in double overtime, and she has not forgotten what it felt like, “It was freezing cold, I was wearing tights, I remember the whistle blowing; I just fell to my knees and wanted to disappear. Those moments have been rare in my life, where I’ve felt so embarrassed and responsible, but those moments are the ones you learn from the most,” says Wambach. “That was one of the pivotal moments where I stopped making excuses for myself, and I really felt the loss, felt the pain, and that kind of drove me.”
“These high school championships, which seem simple and trivial, can actually be the starting point of how I can get over the 2002, 2007 losses of the World Cup,” says Wambach. “I’ve never won a World Cup – and I want to change that in 2015.”
When Wambach was a USWNT rookie, she talked – a lot. So much so that Julie Foudy gave her a t-shirt that read, ‘Help, I’m talking and I can’t shut up’. “I think that at first – talking was my space filler; I talked because I was nervous,” says Wambach. Not to mention that the USWNT lifestyle involves a lot of downtime in buses, hotels, airports, etc… “You’re talking to fill the time,” says Wambach. “The more I talk, the more someone else might loosen up and share things with me. The closer we get off the field, the closer we get on the field, and that will for sure translate. Any team I’ve been on that has won championships, they’re close.”
U.S. National Team: Since debuting for the USA in 2001, she has become one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the world and now holds the all-time international scoring record … In addition to breaking Mia Hamm’s world scoring record during her four-goal performance against the Korea Republic on June 20, 2013, it also made her the USA’s all-time leader in multiple-goal games with 43 … Heading into 2015, she has 35 two-goal games, five hat tricks, two four-goal game and one five-goal game … Has the best goals-per-game ratio in U.S. history, having scored 177 goals in 232 games so far… Of her 177 goals through the end of 2014, 75 were scored with her head (42 percent) … Through the end of 2014, the USA is 112-2-8 all-time in games in which she scored.
2015: 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion... Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her fourth World Cup selection... Has played in all 17 matches for the U.S. Women so far this year, captaining five and starting eight...Leads the team in goals scored with six for a career total of 183... Scored in the final Group Stage game against Nigeria, moving into a tie with Germany’s Birgit Prinz for 2nd all-time in World Cup goals... Scored two goals to help the USA go on to defeat Mexico 5-1 in its second Send-Off Series game in Carson, California, on May 17... Notched two goals during the USA's 3-0 win over Ireland on May 10... Scored her first goal of the year on March 6 during a 3-0 victory over Switzerland at the Algarve Cup, leading the USA to its 10th tournament title... With the goal against Switzerland, she jumped 20 goals ahead of former record holder Mia Hamm (158 goals from 1987-2004)... 2014: Appeared in 20 games for the U.S. and scored 14 goals, including seven during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship where she was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer as she helped the USA qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup … Scored four times in the CONCACAF championship game victory vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 26, three coming with her head … Hit double-figures in goals for a calendar year for the eighth time in her career … Named a finalist for the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Award… Named the CONCACAF Female Player of the Year… Named a finalist for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive year … 2013: Once again led the U.S. team in scoring, finding the net 11 times while starting 12 of the 14 games she played … Played 989 minutes and also tied for the team-lead in assists with six … Won the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year award for the record sixth time, and third time in the past four years, passing Mia Hamm who was honored for five consecutive years from 1994-1998 … Wambach has now won the award in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013 … It was the seventh year of her career in which she reached double-figures in goals, second only to Hamm (nine years) … Tied then broke Hamm’s all-time international scoring record on June 20 during a 5-0 victory vs. the Korea Republic when she scored four goals, all in the first half … In that match she tied Hamm’s record at 158 with her second goal of the game, and then broke it with her third, heading in a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe in the 29th minute … She scored her first three goals of that game in a 20-minute span … Also scored against Scotland, Iceland, Germany, Mexico and Brazil during the year … Was one of three finalists for the 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, and finished second in the voting … Scored the second most goals for club and country (22) of any American player during the year … 2012: Had one of the best years of her brilliant career, culminating in winning the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, which was presented the Gala Awards in Zurich, Switzerland … She was just the second American to win the honor and first since Mia Hamm won it the first two years it was awarded in 2001 and 2002 … Had the second best scoring year of her career, pounding in 27 goals (just one behind Alex Morgan) with eight assists … Set a U.S. and Olympic record by scoring in the first five matches of the 2012 Olympics … Her header goal against France off a corner kick with the USA down 2-0 sparked a comeback to the 4-2 victory and ignited the USA’s gold medal run … Her clutch penalty kick with 10 minutes left in regulation tied the semifinal against Canada 3-3, sending the game to overtime where the USA dramatically won 4-3 on Alex Morgan’s goal in the last minute of stoppage time at the end of the second OT period … Started all six games at the Olympics and played all but 13 minutes of the tournament while winning her second gold medal … Had seven multiple goal games and scored in 20 of the USA’s 32 matches … The only player to start all 32 matches, she played 2,454 minutes – the most of any year in her career – and the most of any field player … Delighted her hometown crowd in the first game of the 10-game Fan Tribute Tour following the Olympics by scoring twice against Costa Rica in Rochester, N.Y. … Scored in both friendly matches against Germany in October … Started all six games at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in Vancouver, Canada, playing just 285 minutes and still scored six goals to lead the U.S. team in the competition while dishing five assists … Scored two goals in each of the final two matches of the year against China to up her career total to 152, just seven short of breaking Mia Hamm’s all-time scoring record for international soccer … 2011: Earned U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year honors for the second consecutive year and the fifth time overall … Scored eight goals with four assists in 2011, including goals in the final four matches of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, all with her head … The only U.S. player to ever score in the final four – or even three – games of the Women’s World Cup … Won the Silver Ball as the second best player at the Women’s World Cup and the Bronze Boot as the third leading scorer in the tournament … Struggled with an injury leading into the Women’s World Cup, and had scored just one goal heading to Germany, but then scored in the USA’s last group game, in the quarterfinal against Brazil, in the semifinal against France and in the championship against Japan … She made both of her attempts in the two penalty kick shootouts at the World Cup, the only U.S. player to do so … At the time, her goal against Brazil in the dying seconds of overtime time was the latest goal ever scored in a FIFA competition (122nd minute) … Her four goals in the tournament gave her 13 World Cup goals for her career, moving her past the great Michelle Akers into first on the all-time list of U.S. goal scorers for a World Cup … She scored in both post-World Cup matches against Canada, including two goals in a 3-0 win in front of a sold-out crowd in Portland on Sept. 22, giving her goals in six consecutive games and tying her personal best streak … Finished third in the voting for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year … Named the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year and the prestigious Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, the first soccer player – man or woman – ever to receive the award … Played 1,330 minutes in 17 games, starting 13 … 2010: Had a sensational year for the USA, starting all 18 games she played while scoring 16 goals with four assists to lead the team in scoring … Had six multiple goal games, scoring twice against Norway, Sweden, Germany and Costa Rica and a hat trick against Guatemala, the seventh hat trick of her career … Scored in the 3-2 victory against Germany in the Algarve Cup championship game … Scored the game-winner against Mexico in the 1-0 victory played in ankle- deep snow in Salt Lake City and then made snow angels to celebrate … Scored twice in the must-win third- place game against Costa Rica at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament as the USA won 3-0 to earn a spot in the playoff series against Italy …Started all five games at the Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament, leading the team in scoring with eight goals … Played all 180 minutes of both legs against Italy and assisted on Alex Morgan’s game-winning goal in stoppage time during the first leg in Padova … Finished fifth in the voting for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year … 2009: Played every minute of all four matches she played for the USA, making her return to the WNT from a broken leg on May 25 against Canada in Toronto … In her next match, she scored her 100th career goal in dramatic fashion during a 1-0 victory against Canada in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., on July 19 … She became the fifth player in U.S. history and ninth player in world history to score 100 career international goals … Scored her 101st career goal in a 1-0 victory against Germany in front of a sold-out crowd in Augsburg, Germany … 2008: Was having another brilliant year when it was cut short by a broken leg on July 16 against Brazil in San Diego in the last match before the Olympics … Before she broke both her tibia and fibula, causing her to be replaced on the Olympic roster, she had played in 22 games, starting 21, and was the USA’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 10 assists … Her 10 assists were the second most in a calendar year for the WNT … Scored several key goals for the USA, including the game-winner against Mexico in Olympic Qualifying … Scored the game-winner against Australia and both goals against Italy at the Peace Queen Cup … 2007: Named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year for the third time … Led the USA in scoring with 20 goals, just the sixth time a player has scored 20 or more goals in a calendar year … Became the first player to score 20 or more goals in a year twice in her career … With her first goal against New Zealand on Aug. 12, she moved into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time U.S. goal scoring list … Became the 20th U.S. player to hit 100 caps, earning her century against England in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal win … Scored six goals in the Women’s World Cup to lead the USA and won the Silver Shoe as the second-leading scorer in the tournament … Had seven two-goal games … Scored her 20 goals in 21 total games … Also had five assists … Scored in eight of the USA’s 11 domestic games … 2006: Led the USA in scoring with 17 goals and eight assists … Started all three games at the Four Nations, scoring against Norway in the first match for her 50th career goal … Scored 50 career goals in 64 games, the second-quickest to 50 goals in U.S. history behind Michelle Akers … Started all four games at the Algarve Cup, getting one goal against Denmark … Recorded her fourth career hat trick in a 3-1 victory against Japan on May 7 in Kumamoto … Came up huge for the USA at 2006 CONCACAF Qualifying while playing on a bad ankle, scoring both goals in the 2-0 win against Mexico that sent the USA to the Women’s World Cup … Finished fourth in the voting for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year … 2005: Started all eight games in which she played, scoring four goals with five assists … Scored twice in her four starts at the 2005 Algarve Cup … Entering 2005, she had scored 45 goals in her 55 career cap; while after 55 career games, Mia Hamm had scored 16 career goals … 2004: Named the 2004 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, her second in a row … Finished fourth in voting for the 2004 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year … Started all five matches she played at the 2004 Olympics (she was suspended for the final group game vs. Australia) and scored four goals with one assist … She became the first U.S. player to score four goals in an Olympic tournament, helping the USA to the gold medal with goals against Greece and Brazil in the first round, Japan in the quarterfinals and the dramatic overtime game-winner in the Olympic Final against Brazil … Enjoyed one of the greatest years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, scoring 31 goals in the final 30 matches of 2004 … The 31-goal performance marks the second highest total in a calendar year by a U.S. player, and she became one of only five players to score 20 or more goals in a year, joining Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly and Tiffeny Milbrett … Her 31 goals and 13 assists mark just the seventh time a U.S. players has recorded double figures in goals and assists in a calendar year, but four of those years came from Hamm … The 75 points mark the third-highest point total in U.S. history, surpassed only by Michelle Akers in 1991 (39 goals, 7 assists, 85 points) and Alex Morgan in 2012 (28 goals, 21 assists, 77 points) … The Denmark match on Nov. 6 was the first game the USA had lost in which Wambach had scored and following the 2005 Algarve Cup, the USA was 32-1-1 in games she has tallied … Averaged a goal every 74 minutes she was on the field in 2004 … Tied a U.S. record for goals in a game on Oct. 23, scoring all five goals in the second half in the USA’s 5-0 win against Ireland in Houston … In May, she played at forward, in the midfield, and for most of the second half, at left back, for the FIFA Women’s World Stars in Paris during a 3-2 win against Germany as part of FIFA’s Centennial celebrations at Stade de France … 2003: Played in just six matches, starting three, before the Women’s World Cup, but turned out to be one of the stars of the tournament … Ended the year having played 14 matches, starting nine, including five Women’s World Cup matches … Led the USA in scoring at the WWC with three goals, tallying one of the most important goals in U.S. history in the 1-0 win against Norway in the quarterfinal … Also scored against Nigeria and North Korea … She scored all nine of her goals in the last 12 matches of the year … 2002: Earned seven of her eight career caps to date, starting four matches, while scoring five goals … Had a hat trick against Scotland on Sept. 8 … Was a member of the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Team that qualified the USA for the 2003 Women’s World Cup, scoring against Panama in her only appearance of the tournament … Youth National Teams: A member of the 2001 U.S. Under-21 Nordic Cup championship team, she scored three goals across the first three matches, but was suspended from the final due to yellow card accumulation … Also played for the U.S. Under-16 National Team in 1996 … First Appearance: Sept. 9, 2001, vs. Germany ... First Goal: April 27, 2002, vs. Finland.
Professional / Club – 2014: In her seventh pro club season, she missed numerous game due to injuries, but still started and played in 10, racking up 835 minutes and scoring six goals with four assists … 2013: Allocated to her hometown Western New York Flash for the inaugural NWSL season and helped lead her club to a first-place regular season finish and into the NWSL title game, which it hosted … Played 1,693 minutes in 19 games, all starts, while scoring 11 goals with eight assists … Finished third in the league in shots (64), and finished second in shots on goal (40) … She was tied for second in NWSL goal scoring and second in assists while being named to the NWSL Best XI … 2011: Scored nine goals for magicJack despite playing in just 11 games due to National Team commitments in helping her club to a playoff berth … Also had two assists … Was named to the WPS Best XI … Took over as head coach of magicJack on July 21 following the Women’s World Cup and guided the team at the end of the season and in its two playoff matches … 2010: Started all 22 games she played for the Freedom, logging 1,979 minutes … Scored 13 goals (second in WPS) with eight assists (tied for second in WPS) and helped the Freedom to a playoff berth … Had five game-winning goals … Named to the WPS Best XI and was the top overall vote-getter for the WPS All-Star Game … 2009: Allocated to the Washington Freedom for the inaugural WPS season in 2009 … Played in 17 games for the Freedom, starting 16, and was the top American goal scorer in WPS with eight goals, which was good for a tie for second in the league …Also had five assists, which tied her for second in WPS, but led the league in shots (70) and shots on goal (35) … Named to the WPS All-Star Team … Helped the Freedom to third-place finish in the regular season and a berth in the playoffs with an 8-7-5 record … 2003: Had a spectacular WUSA season, tying for the league lead in scoring with 33 points (13 goals, 7 assists) and was named to the All-WUSA First Team as she led the Freedom to the WUSA title … Scored both of her team’s goals in the Founders Cup Championship Game, the winner in sudden death overtime, and was named the MVP of the match … Also won the 2003 WUSA Goal of the Year for a spectacular diving header … Led the WUSA in fouls committed with 62 … Had four multi-goal games … Led the WUSA in points per game at 1.83 … Was named as a starter to the WUSA All-Star Game … 2002: Was the second player taken in the 2002 WUSA Draft by the Washington Freedom … Started 19 games for the Freedom, scoring 10 goals, and was named the WUSA Rookie of the Year … Was named All-WUSA Second Team and finished tied for fourth in the WUSA in scoring while helping the Freedom to the WUSA title game … Voted as a starter to the WUSA South All-Star Team and earned MVP honors with two goals and an assist in the South’s 6-1 win … Youth: Was a three-year captain for the Rochester Spirit club … Played several matches for Ajax of Los Angeles in the WPSL in the summer of 2005.