WASHINGTON, June 21, 2013 — Abby Wambach once said her chances of beating Mia Hamm’s scoring record would be almost impossible. Even Hamm told Wambach about nine years ago, that she might need 15 years to catch her.
Now Wambach can’t believe she’s actually done it. And she did it in nine years, not 15.
Wambach scored four goals in a 5-0 win over South Korea at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on Thursday, to take her tally to 160 and eclipsing Hamm’s record of 158. She is now the greatest goal scorer in women’s international soccer.
In an interview with The Washington Times in 2006, when she had 64 career goals in just 80 international games, Wambach doubted she could catch up with Hamm.
“I remember her [Hamm] saying, and it was almost a challenge at the time, and I didn’t have close to 30 goals, that I would have to play another 15 years [to catch her record] because she played almost 20 years,” Wambach said. “Mia got a six or seven-year head start on me, so catching her is pretty slim.”
Hamm, who played alongside Wambach at the Washington Freedom (2001-2003) retired from the game in 2004 at the age of 32. The 33-year-old Wambach shows no signs of hanging up her cleats.
Wambach’s 159th goal, that took her past Hamm’s record, came from a diving trademark header as she converted a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe. Sixty-nine of her goals have come from headers.
Wambach has now scored 160 goals in 207 games for the U.S. team. Hamm scored 158 goals in 275 games for the Americans.
“It’s surreal to begin with,” said Wambach. “I’m so thankful and my teammates were trying to get me those goals. I can’t thank them enough. As a competitor you want to be done with the things that put me at the forefront of conversations. This team is too good to be talking about one person.”
At the halftime mark in the game, U.S. Soccer released a statement from Hamm congratulating Wambach.
“I’m just so proud of her,” Hamm said. “Just watching those four goals, that’s what she is all about. She fights for the ball, she’s courageous and she never gives up. Her strength and perseverance is what makes her so great, and it’s what defenders and opposing teams fear. From being her teammate early in her career, I know all she ever wanted to do was win and she continues to do that. I’m just glad I got to share 158 with her. It was short, but it was fun.”
Even President Obama, whose daughters play soccer, used his Twitter account to congratulate Wambach on Friday: “Congratulations @AbbyWambach, the greatest goal scorer in the history of women’s soccer—you’ve made your country proud.”
The win over Korea also marked the 101st win for the USA when Wambach scores a goal. The Americans are now 101-2-8 when Wambach scores.
“Comparing me to Mia is like apples and oranges,” Wambach once told the Times. “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.”
Yes, Abby Wambach, the geatest goal scorer in women’s international soccer.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. 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 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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