U.S. WNT Wins Award on the Same Day They Defeat France
to Advance to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final
CHICAGO (July 14, 2011) – The U.S. Women’s National Team woke up in Germany this morning to the news that they won Best Play at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night for Abby Wambach’s header in the second minute of stoppage time in the second and final 15-minute overtime period of the FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil. Wambach’s dramatic goal, the latest in Women’s World Cup history, forced the match into penalty kicks, where the U.S. went on to win the penalty shootout and earn a place in the semifinal against France.
On Wednesday, the U.S. defeated France 3-1 to earn a place in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time since the historic run in 1999. For the second-straight game Wambach scored a clutch header for the U.S., this time netting the game-winner in the 79th minute after Lauren Cheney had given the team the lead in the first half. U.S. forward Alex Morgan would provide the insurance goal three minutes later to seal the USA’s spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.
“In any play in soccer there is most likely many players involved that allow the play to develop and end in a goal,” said Wambach. “Obviously the magnitude and the desperation and the need for that goal in that moment helped make it the best play, but the hard work of the those 10 players left on the field that day, the 11 players that were cheering us on from the sidelines and the many millions of fans cheering us on from around the world makes the play something that none of us will ever forget.”
Other nominees in the category included Eric Hassli’s top-shelf goal for Vancouver Whitecaps against Seattle Sounders FC, a bicycle-kick goal from Wayne Rooney against Manchester City, DeSean Jackson’s game-winning punt return for the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants and Marshawn Lynch’s run for the Seattle Seahawks against the New Orleans Saints.
Wambach’s goal was a late entry into the pool for Best Play and was in consideration almost immediately following the exciting finish.
The U.S. Men’s National Team won Best Moment at last year’s ESPY Awards for its 1-0 victory in added time against Algeria in the team’s final group match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup that provided the U.S. a place in the Round of 16. U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan, who scored the winning goal against Algeria, also won the Castrol Performance Under Pressure and Best MLS Player awards.
The ESPY awards recognize individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the calendar year preceding the annual ceremony. The awards have been given out annually since 1993 and are determined by fan vote.