CHICAGO (July 10, 2008) – U.S. forward Abby Wambach is just one goal away from becoming the ninth player in the history of soccer to score 100 international goals. Wambach, who debuted for the USA in 2001, has 99 career goals and with one more, would join Mia Hamm (158 goals), Kristine Lilly (129), Birgit Prinz (120), Elisabetta Vignotta (107), Michelle Akers (105), Carolina Morace (104), Julie Fleeting (103) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100) in one of international soccer’s most exclusive clubs.
Wambach will get a chance for her 100th in two matches before the Olympics as the USA takes on Brazil at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., on July 13 (2 p.m. MT on ESPN) and at Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on July 16 (7 p.m. PT on Fox Soccer Channel). Five of Wambach’s 99 goals have come against Brazil, including one of her most famous: the overtime score that won the 2004 Olympic gold medal game.
Tickets are selling well for both matches, with more than 10,000 sold for the game at Dick’s Sporting Good’s Park. Less than 1,000 seats remain for the match in San Diego, which will feature the return of defender Rachel Buehler who attended Torrey Pines High School and hails from Del Mar in San Diego’s north county.
Wambach has scored her 99 goals in just 125 career caps, the best goals-to-games ratio in U.S. history. She averages a goal for about every 90 minutes she has played for the USA. At 5-foot-11, Wambach’s size and strength have been key assets as she has piled up the goals, but her speed and skills have also helped her score for the USA in a myriad of ways.
Wambach, 28, hails from Rochester, N.Y., where she was a high school All-American. She attended the University of Florida, where she scored 96 goals, but her ascension to the U.S. National Team featured several setbacks. Wambach finished her college career in 2001 after having a breakout Nordic Cup tournament earlier that summer with the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team, and was drafted to the Washington Freedom of the WUSA. Over the next two years, despite numerous call-ups to National Teams camps, she failed to make several rosters, but did show flashes of what was to come, scoring five goals in 2002, including her first-ever hat trick against Scotland. Wambach, with a new dedication to fitness and professionalism, had a spectacular 2003 WUSA season. She tied for the league-lead in scoring with 13 goals and seven assists while leading the Freedom to the WUSA title and scoring both goals in the championship game, including a golden-goal winner in overtime.
In 2003 she recorded two goals for the USA against Ireland, and her performance in the WUSA led to a place on the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team. She scored three goals for the USA in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, including the winning goal against Norway in the quarterfinal match, and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. Her international career was off and running.
In 2004, she had one of the greatest scoring years in U.S. history, pounding in 31 goals, the second-highest yearly total in U.S. history, including four goals in the Olympic Games. She led the USA in scoring at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, finding the net six times to earn the Silver Shoe as the tournament’s second leading scorer, and scored 20 times on the year, becoming the first player to score 20 or more goals in a calendar year twice in her U.S. National Team career.
Wambach has led the USA in scoring during the last three world championship events, and while that quality has certainly distinguished her on the international stage, her ability to create goals must not be overlooked. She has 43 career assists, which puts her seventh in U.S. history.
The U.S. team has lost just one match in which Wambach has scored, that coming at the very end of 2004 in a 3-1 setback to Denmark on the Fan Celebration Tour following the USA’ gold medal run in Athens, Greece. The U.S. team is 65-1-2 in games that Wambach tallies. Just four of her goals have come off penalty kicks. She has scored in 45 different stadiums and of her 99 goals, 41 have come with her head.
Even with all her scoring accolades, the 18-player Olympic Team that Wambach leads into Denver and San Diego has tallied goals from numerous positions and 12 different players. Along with Wambach’s 13 goals so far this year, Natasha Kai has 11 and Lindsay Tarpley has 10. Carli Lloyd has found the net seven times while Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez have four goals each.
2008 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team
United States vs. Brazil
July 13 – Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, Colo.
July 16 – Torero Stadium – San Diego, Calif.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.)
FORWARDS (3): Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.)
ABBY WAMBACH BY THE NUMBERS
Abby Wambach 99 Goals (pdf): A complete, game-by-game rundown