Later this evening, as the U.S. face China in their final Victory Tour match, Abby Wambach will step off the soccer field for the last time as a player. Abby has had a somewhat contentious soccer career, but it's hard to argue with her results. She's retiring with two Olympic Gold Medals, one World Cup title, a WUSA championship, an NCAA championship, and a FIFA Ballon d'Or Award.
Abby Wambach is a legend who will leave as the all-time leading goal scorer, men or women, with 184 international goals. Her teammates, who refer to Abby as the GOAT (greatest of all time), have already started sharing farewell messages — many of them filled with tears. In tonight's sendoff, fans watching at the Superdome and on TV will have the chance to join Abby's teammates and say #ThanksAbby one last time.
Abby's departure comes at a pivotal moment in women's soccer. When she began her U.S. national team career 14 years ago, America dominated the game with physical strength and athleticism. U.S. Soccer molded its program around Abby and her head, lofting long balls over the top again and again.
And it worked for many years, because Abby was tough, fearless, and willing to put her body on the line for her teammates. More than 40 percent of Abby's record-breaking 184 goals were scored with her head.
Today, as women's soccer continues to grow in positive ways around the world, the game has advanced as well. Teams like France get by with finesse and technical skills, relying on one-touch passing, movement off the ball, and threading through-balls. Speed and power are no longer going to be enough.
As Abby passes off the baton, young teammates like Morgan Brian and college standout Rose Lavelle — both highly skilled, smart studies of the game — are poised to lead this team into a new era of U.S. soccer. And Abby appears ready to use her boisterous voice in new ways: as an advocate for gender equality in the sport.
Abby leaves soccer as a player today, but I suspect this isn't the last time we feel her influence. Abby has always wanted her success to open doors for players to score even more goals, for the U.S. to win more World Cups, and for women soccer professionals to get paid more money, gain more fans in the stands, and play on better fields. I hope that's the legacy she leaves behind.
How to Watch
When: Wednesday, December 16, 5 PM PT / 8 PM ET (kickoff likely around 5:30)
Where: Superdome, New Orleans
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go