January 25, 2012
By Michael Lewis
TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED
Wambach warns U.S. teammates there is still much work to do
VANCOUVER — The United States might be one win away from clinching its fifth consecutive Summer Olympics berth, but striker Abby Wambach is not taking anything for granted.
|Abby Wambach: "I just don’t want to leave any stone unturned."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
After the Americans dispatched Mexico, 4-0, in their CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying match that clinched the Group B crown, Wambach addressed her teammates on the field at BC Place.
She told the team not to take anything for granted. She brought up Cancun, where the U.S. was stunned by the Mexicans at the Women’s world Cup qualifying semifinals, 2-1. The Mexicans qualified for Germany while the Americans were forced to perform hard labor to get there — beating Costa Rica in the third-place match and then Italy in a special playoff.
“I think it’s simple. Everybody knows it and understands it,” Wambach said. “In hindsight, when we were in Cancun, maybe we wished we had said to ourselves ‘look, we haven’t done anything. We have to win this game and we need to get out of this game to qualify.’ Because we didn’t say those things, I just don’t want to leave any stone unturned, so that’s what that was about.”
We haven’t done anything yet — that might be the team’s mantra during this qualifying series.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Wambach said. “This was really good for us to put us in a position where we get out of our group [first] and cross over to play the second seed, Costa Rica. But this was the exact same position we were in in Mexico in 2010 during World Cup qualifying. We haven’t done anything we still have one game left so stay focused. We’ll enjoy tomorrow – we have off tomorrow – and get our legs back while we start preparing for Costa Rica.”
As it turned out, Wambach got the final 29 minutes or so off on Tuesday night as she was taken out for Megan Rapinoe in the 61st minute.
Wambach has been battling Achilles problems. With the U.S. enjoying a three-goal lead at the time, resting Wambach for the Costa Ricans certainly was a safe and wise proposition.
“I feel great,” she said. “Pia [Sundhage, coach] and the medical staff have done a really good job of keeping me fresh. I’ve had two 45 [minute games] and one 60 [minute game] and that’s perfect leading into this next game against Costa Rica.”