WASHINGTON, October 24, 2012 - Abby Wambach is closing in on a record no one ever thought could be broken.
When U.S. team star Mia Hamm retired in 2004 after scoring 158 international goals in 275 games more than 50 goals ahead of any other player it appeared her world record would stay intact for decades. So we all thought.
But Wambach is now just 10 goals from tying Hamm’s record. She scored her 23rd goal of the year in a 2-2 draw with Germany in East Hartford, Conn., on Tuesday, to notch the 148th goal of her stunning career.
Hamm retired at 32. Wambach is 32, but still looks fit, and likely to play for another few years with an eye on the 2015 World Cup in Canada. The American striker can add to her tally of goals when the U.S. team plays a pair of games against Ireland in Portland, Ore. on Nov. 28, and in Phoenix, Ariz. on Dec. 1, as part of the Fan Tribute Tour.
“For us, this isn’t necessarily about the result on the field,” Wambach told the Associated Press. “This is about sharing the gold medal, sharing this team with all the people in the stands.”
Wambach is also now in sole possession of eighth place on the U.S. team’s all-time caps list with her 193rd appearance, passing Brandi Chastain (192). The native of Rochester, N.Y., has won two Olympic Gold Medals (2004, 2012), but has never won a World Cup medal.
The U.S. team came in as runners-up to Japan in 2011. She missed the Beijing Olympics after breaking her leg in the last warm-up game. Hamm won two World Cups (1991,1999) and two Olympic Gold Medals (1996, 2004).
The former University of Florida says she doesn’t focus on the number of goals she scores.
“I think my parents are the only ones who really keep me up to date on how many goals per game I have,” she once told The Washington Times.
Unlike Hamm, who also had 144 assists in her career, Wambach is a big intimidating target player whose key role on the field is to put the ball in the net. She has 59 assists, fifth on the U.S. team all-time list.
“Comparing me to Mia is like apples and oranges, she said in a 2006 Times interview. “Both taste good but you just can’t do it even though everyone tries. Am I the next Mia Hamm? No way. I’m Abby Wambach.”
Wambach spent two seasons with the Washington Freedom playing alongside Hamm. She scored 23 goals over those two seasons and helped the team win the 2003 title before the Women’s United Soccer Association folded.
She later played in the new Washington Freedom in WPS scoring 21 goals in 39 games from 2009-2010.
* For 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon
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