Wambach Shows Why She is a Leader on and off the Field

After the United States Women’s National Team tied South Korea 0-0 yesterday at Red Bull Arena in its farewell game before heading to Canada for wambach2 this year’s World Cup that begins June 6, US veteran forward, Abby Wambach, felt the need to warn her teammates they can have an embarrassing early exit if they go into the tournament with a “sense of fear.”

Said Wambach:

“We need to be a team that has no fear. We need to go out there and fly at other teams — that’s a team that I think is unbeatable. If we don’t … that’s a team that I don’t know if it gets out of our group.”

The US is currently ranked second in the world behind Germany, and is in Group D for the World Cup which also includes Australia, Sweden and Nigeria. Many consider this the “Group of Death” for this year’s Women’s World Cup draw.

While the US is considered a favorite, Wambach knows the young US squad could struggle due to nerves. I  would be surprised if they did not get out of the group stage despite having eight players making their World Cup debut and nine making their second.

There are still veterans on this team other than Wambach, who will be making her fourth World Cup appearance. Defender Christie Rampone, 39, is appearing in her fifth World Cup. Midfielder Shannon Boxx is making her fourth World Cup and goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielders Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly are making their third.

A World Cup victory is the only thing lacking on Wambach’s resume which includes two gold medals in the Olympics. She has won a championship at every level including high school where I had the pleasure of watching her play at the varsity level for five years capping her senior year by being named an All-America and New York State Girls’ High School Player of the Year. As a freshman in college, Wambach helped lead the University of Florida to their first-ever women’s college soccer trophy. While first playing with former US star Mia Hamm as a Member of the Washington Freedom, Wambach won the Founders Cup and was named game MVP. Wambach is also the all-time leading women’s international scorer with 182 goals, but she yearns for a World Cup victory. She is now the veteran passing on wisdom to her younger teammates the same way Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Kristine Lilly did for her.

Wambach turns 35 tomorrow and knows this is more than likely her final World Cup. She also knows her time playing the full game has passed her by. US coach Jill Ellis has stated there are games Wambach will start like she did yesterday when she was substituted in the 60th minute, and there will be games she prefers Wambach coming off the bench to close out games. For Wambach, either will do because she will be offering advice to teammates whether she is on the pitch or on the sideline.

And that’s as I see it!

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Internal photo courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com

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