June 21, 2013
By Michael Lewis
LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE
Wambach hopes Morgan will break her record
HARRISON, N.J. -- Leave it to Abby Wambach to deflect some of the glory that she had rightfully earned on Thursday night.
|Abby Wambach hopes Alex Morgan breaks her all-time scoring record
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Minutes after she shattered Mia Hamm's all-time international scoring record behind a remarkable, four-goal performance in a 5-0 thrashing of the Korea Republic, she already was predicting that teammate Alex Morgan would break her newly set record.
Wambach has 160 international goals, two more than Mia Hamm's mark of 158. Morgan, who turns 24 on July 2, still has a long way to go, but her scoring rate is ridiculous -- 44 in 68 matches.
"You know, if I would end my career right now, I would have done it before breaking Mia's record," Wambach said. "That's how much respect I have for Mia, how much she has done for me personally, how much she is doing for Alex Morgan, still. This isn't a personal thing. Mia wants players to break her records. I now want Alex to break mine. I just told Alex, 'You better do in much less time than I did.'
"Alex is going to score tons of goals in the next few years. We have such a different kind of strength. When I'm having a great game, she's probably going to be on the assisting end of things. But I want to be putting her in positions to score goals because my legs can't move like hers. She can score goals in such random positions like the Canada game. She's going to be a threat for us. She is going to score the bulk, the lion's share of goals for our team over the next couple of years. If my role becomes to assist her, great. If I'm the set piece threat fine. Whatever my role is to help this team win a World Cup title, that's all I care about.
Asked about her place in American soccer history, Wambach said she didn't really care.
"I don't think of how I sit in history in the books," she said. "What my legacy is, that's something that I do care about, something that has eluded me is that World Cup championship. Every athlete, in these moments, you do have to separate yourself and really celebrate. I'm going to celebrate with my friends and family. But tomorrow, the sun comes up, I still have to keep working on my game to get better. I think that's what the best athletes do. They don't dwell on their championships or their records. As soon as you win one, all you want to do is find something new and move towards that."
That would be a Women's World Cup championship.
Of all her achievements and accolades, which includes two Olympic gold medals, that is the one honor missing from Wambach's personal collection is one from winning the Women's World Cup. She came close three times, finishing third in 2003 and 2007 and second in 2011.
"I was never really focused on breaking the record, truthfully," Wambach said. "For me, it was getting my body to 100 percent physical health and fitness so I can be performing at my peak for 2015 for Canada. Of course, qualification, we have to get to Canada first. Two years away, aging body, I've got to take care of myself and hopefully score some goals along the way. But for me, my focus and my goal is winning that World Cup."