Last night in an international friendly against South Korea, Abby Wambach of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team surpassed Mia Hamm for the most career goals scored by a women’s soccer player in international competition. Wambach scored four goals, all in the first half, to give her a total of 160 in her career. Now that the record has been broken, she can shift her focus to the next part of her career. But what does the future hold for Wambach on the soccer field?
At 33 years of age, the only thing Wambach has yet to accomplish in her professional career is a World Cup championship. After the U.S. women fell short of that goal in 2011, losing to Japan in the final match, Wambach will be willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of a World Cup-winning team. But with two years left until the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, it’s not a certainty that Wambach will be able to retain her form and her spot on the team between now and then.
It’s not just a matter of staying in shape, avoiding injury and continuing to score goals, all of which Wambach is capable of doing. Even if she were to lose a step or two, there’s no one in the world that’s as dangerous in the air as Wambach, and her ability to win balls and score goals with her head is a weapon no other team in the world has.
However, Wambach will have to hold onto her spot on the team amidst an embarrassment of riches the Americans have at the forward position. The U.S. boasts a trio of young strikers — Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press — who are capable of providing more than enough offense to lead the U.S. to a World Cup title.
Wambach will likely have to take on a decreased role on the team in order to compensate for her age and the possibility that her abilities will decline over the next two years and to allow Morgan, Leroux and Press to receive adequate amounts of playing time.
She may not be able to play every game, she may not be able to always play 90 minutes and she may have to come off the bench at times, but the tradeoff for doing that will be Wambach being able to continue to play with the national team long enough to play in the 2015 World Cup and help the U.S. win a world championship.
Now that setting the all-time goal scoring record is out of the way, Wambach can focus on her real goal, which is winning a World Cup title. To do that, she will have to accept a change in her role with the national team over the next two years.
But if she does that, which she should be more than willing to do, and she stays healthy, Wambach will still be an integral part of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team when they play in the World Cup in 2015, which will give Wambach one final shot to accomplish the only thing she is yet to achieve in her incredible career.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.