At this late stage of her marvelous career, Abby Wambach is no longer the centerpiece of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. The headers are not as powerful and accurate as they once were and the days of 90-minute battles every match are over. But Wambach’s value remains unquestioned, and amid a personal and collective unproductive spell in the World Cup group stage, she added to her record goal haul and clinched first place for the Americans.
Untidy with her headers, Wambach turned to her left foot for a volley on the brink of halftime Tuesday, shattering a scoreless deadlock and lifting the United States to a 1-0 victory over Nigeria before 52,193 at sold-out BC Place in Vancouver.
“Jokingly, I thought when I took the job [last year], if Abby has one leg, she is going to make this roster because she embodies a lot of the spirit of this team and our program,” Coach Jill Ellis said. “Her leadership is tremendous. Her spirit is fantastic. So when I met with her early, I said, ”˜Listen, I have not predetermined your role. Your role will be as big as you deliver.’ I just know Abby, I know big moments, I know she will deliver. I’m really pleased with the investment tonight.”