Abby Wambach: the greatest U.S. women’s soccer player of all time?


I have played soccer my entire life. Since I was five years old, I have always been obsessed with watching the United States women’s national soccer team play. Every one of those players was a role-model to me. I looked up to them because I wanted to be just like them; however, Abby Wambach was the one I strived to be the most. 

Wambach started off her career at the University of Florida, dominating and picking up several accolades in her four years in Gainesville. In her time there, she held the record for the number of goals scored in a season with 31. This becomes even more impressive, because to this day, she still holds the record for goals scored in a career at the University of Florida with 96. She also holds the record for the number of game-winning goals with 24 and the number of hat tricks in a season, recording ten of them in her career. Along with this, she won SEC player of the year twice over her four years. To this day, she is the NCAA Division 1 titleholder for points per game and goals per game with an incredible stat line of 3.17 ppg and 1.29 goals per game. 

However, her career at the University of Florida was only the start of a revolutionary career in the sport. In 2001, Wambach was selected to be a part of the USWNT, and this would be the start to a phenomenal 14-year career that she had. From her first career start in 2003, Wambach became one of the best, if not the best, soccer players to compete for the United States. 

Over the course of her career competing for the United States, Abby won the title for US Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year five times in the years 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2013. Meaning that she beat our Mia Hamm, another top competitor on the team, in the year 2004. 

Abby’s physical stature was one of a champion. Coming in just over 5’11″, she sometimes held over ten inches on her opponents. Not only was she tall, but Wambach was also made up of pure muscle, so when she was put up top as a forward, she was unstoppable. This proved to be a true statement in the 2011 World Cup in Germany when the USA was taking on Brazil in the quarterfinals match. With mere seconds left in the game and the USA down 2-1, Wambach received a cross in the box from her teammate Megan Repinoe. With what became known as the “header heard round the world,” Wambach muscled her way over the goalie and the defenders in her path to perfectly place the ball in the back of the net with a powerful header. With the game now tied, the United States ended up beating Brazil in penalty kicks. Wambach’s physicality as a player is what led her to be so incredibly impactful for the USA, helping secure many memorable victories like this one. 

In 2004, just one year after Wambach’s first official start, she scored 31 goals and had thirteen assists, making her one of four women to ever achieve that in the history of the program. That same year, she went on to score four goals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. One of these goals happened to be the game-winning one against Brazil in the gold medal match, which gave Wambach the first gold medal of her career. 

In the years to follow, Wambach continued to pick up accomplishments left and right. In 2006, she scored her 50th international career goal, and just a year later at the 2007 World Cup, she scored six goals in six matches, allowing the USA to take third. However, in 2008, Wambach suffered a severe leg fracture and was out for a significant portion of the year, forcing her to sit out during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 

Despite the injury, Wambach came back stronger than ever. Almost a year after her injury, she scored her 100th career international goal against Canada. In 2011 during the World Cup, she officially became the leading scorer in the history of the USWNT, and in that same tournament, she scored her 13th goal in a World Cup. Her accomplishments never seemed to stop, and she had only been on the team for ten years at this point. In the 2012 Olympic games held in London, Wambach helped the USWNT by scoring five goals in six matches. In these games, she and the team won their second gold medal. 

The following year, she broke Hamm’s all-time record for international career goals with a total of 158. This was an impressive feat because Hamm is considered to be one of the best to ever play; however, Wambach continued to prove that she belonged in the conversation too. In 2015, Wambach and the USWNT defeated Japan in the finals to win the World Cup. This proved to be the end of her illustrious career, as Wambach announced her retirement after an exhibition game against China in 2015. 

Wambach’s name is known all over the world for her amazing accomplishments on the soccer field. She has inspired girls of all ages, and I can say that confidently because I am one of them. Despite her retirement, her legacy still lives on to this day as the greatest women’s soccer player in history.

Who is the greatest US women's soccer player of all time?


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Check out Gwen’s story on why Mia Hamm deserves the title!

Mia Hamm: the greatest U.S. women’s soccer player of all time?