It’s fitting that Abby Wambach’s week started in Canada.
With all the attention on the star U.S. striker centered around #ChasingMia — Wambach’s 155 goals are three off the all-time international mark held by Mia Hamm, a record that will inevitably fall in the coming weeks or months — the bigger picture for the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year has been overshadowed: the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Wambach will turn 35 years old four days before the tournament kicks off, on June 6, 2015. While she’s been part of two of the last three U.S. Olympic gold medals, she’s yet to win a World Cup, one of those poster board, wakes up to it every morning for motivation sort of facts that drives one of the most genuinely competitive players in the sport.
Alex Morgan has emerged as the young star striker of the U.S., already 10th all-time on the U.S. goal scoring charts (44 goals) a month ahead of her 24th birthday. Morgan mania leads the conversation that the U.S. needs to be — and will be — younger come Canada 2015. The emergence of Christen Press and Sydney Leroux adds to the connotation that the Americans will have a young, speedy front line two years from now.
But to write off Wambach from anything — particularly the biggest prize in the game — is to not know her at all.
This week, like so many others, she proved why.
Wambach played three full matches in seven days this week, showing a durability that didn’t come without pain in 2011 when Achilles tendonitis gave her fits. Seven days. Three games. Two hundred seventy minutes. Two goals and three assists. That was Abby Wambach’s week with the U.S. and the Western New York Flash.
Twice Wambach played provider in the United States’ 3-0 win over Canada. She scored a classic ‘Abby will just out-jump you’ header on Wednesday that helped the Flash tie the Boston Breakers and Wambach capped off the week with a goal and an assist in the Flash’s 3-0 rout of co-league leaders Sky Blue FC on Saturday.
Oh, and she hit the crossbar twice in those two NWSL games.
Wambach’s scoring ability and determination have never been in question and they never will be in question. She’s one of the greatest — statistically soon to be the best — goal scorer ever. What has hung over the idea of her still being one of the United States’ go-to forwards in 2015 is her health and durability; she’s admitted that her body needs to hold up and it’s part of why she’s led a movement to have the 2015 World Cup played on grass instead of turf, as is currently scheduled.
The week of June 2-8 won’t show up in Abby Wambach’s career highlight film. It won’t be something talked about in 2015 and it may not even be noted much beyond this article. But it goes a long way in showing that Wambach is healthy and ready to make this stretch-run of her legendary career one that includes another World Cup. The frequency of games, the regional travel — this past week mimicked a World Cup.
It’s too early to call anyone a definite starter for 2015; U.S. coach Tom Sermanni will try plenty of experiments and make a good number of changes along the way. But if you think Wambach won’t be a significant part of the mix, think again.