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July 14, 2011
Wambach pays homage to previous one

Abby Wambach says this U.S. team is reaping the rewards of the 1999 squad.
Abby Wambach says this U.S. team is reaping the rewards of the 1999 squad.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany — With the United States reaching the Women’s World Cup final for the first time in 12 years, there are obvious comparisons between this year’s team and the 1999 championship side.

Striker Abby Wambach, whose header gave the Americans the lead for good in their 3-1 semifinal win over France on Wednesday, paid tribute to the players and team that laid the groundwork for this version and the rest of women’s international soccer.

“That’s something that’s really cool about this team, because you’re seeing it in terms of the generation that is the changeover from that 1999 generation and that 1999 World Cup team,” Wambach said. “Nothing to take away from them because obviously what they did was special. What they did gave us the opportunities that all of us have here, and even players from different countries, by putting women’s soccer literally on the world stage and the world map.”

The United States has set the bar very high for the rest of the world, Wambach said.

“With the success of the Women’s National Team in the United States, we believe that we set a standard for other federations to put money into their programs and you can see that by this semifinal against France,” she said. “Who knew that France was going to be such a great team? I think some of the 1999 World Cup players probably would say they knew because they were the ones that put in the hard hours.

“We’re kind of reaping the rewards of the things they’ve done and this generation, this team, we believe in ourselves like the 1999 World Cup team did and that’s the historical thing that goes on with this team. To have the belief in each other, to never quit no matter what goes on in the 90 minutes or 120 or 123 minutes. It doesn’t matter. This generation is cool because we want to make a name for ourselves. We want the next generation to be ours.”

Alex Morgan, who at 22 is the youngest player on the team, scored the insurance goal — her first World Cup goal — off the bench. So, she is a member of that younger generation.

“You can mark my words that she will have many World Cup goals,” Wambach said. “She’s a talented young player to come in and get that third goal is amazing.”

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