The Soccer Desk

Abby Wambach Breaks Mia Hamm’s Goal Record in 5-0 Victory Over Korea Republic

Wambach

Harrison, NJ – It was an historic night just a few miles out of New York City, as Abby Wambach finally broke Mia Hamm’s goal scoring record.  It was a beautiful evening for soccer, and the atmosphere at Red Bull Arena was one of both nervousness and cautious optimism.  With her family in the crowd, Wambach would make it look easy on the way to 5-0 route over the Korea Republic.

First Half:

The USWNT would come out swinging early on in the match, obviously trying to get Wambach a quick goal (though they’ll say differently).  It wouldn’t take long.  In just the tenth minute, Wambach would pull to within just one of tying Mia Hamm’s record with a close range shot that slid past Korean keeper Kim Jungmi.  It wouldn’t even take her ten minutes to get her second goal, tying Hamm’s record in the 19th.  Off a nice cross from Lauren Cheney near post, Wambach put one of her trademark headers on the ball, beating Jungmi yet again.  The crowd went wild after that one, but they had no idea what was coming next…or maybe they did.

“Just put something good, let her get up there and try to grab something,” Megan Rapinoe said when asked about her thoughts as she walked to the corner flag with Wambach sitting on two goals already.  That’s exactly what Wambach did with Rapinoe’s corner service, breaking the record the only way she could have, off a brilliant header, scoring the fifth hat trick of her career in the process.

“YESSS!” Rapinoe continued, “Just so happy for her.  That’s just an amazing, amazing, accomplishment, way less games the way she’s done it.  It’s incredible to be a part of.”

Wambach makes history, breaking Mia Hamm's record.

Wambach makes history, breaking Mia Hamm’s record.

Wambach herself was more than excited, especially being able to break the record in front of her family, who were in attendance tonight.  “I can’t say enough how much I look up to Mia and how amazing the record that she set was,” Wambach said to a huge crowd of media members post match, “My teammates have put me in all different kinds of positions to score goals, and I can’t say it enough, and I really through and through believe in my heart, I’m only as good as my teammates allow me to be…and I can’t thank my teammates enough; Cheney, Pino, Alex, that fourth goal, ya know, it’s a special night.”

Like she said, Wambach wasn’t done yet despite having already scored a hat trick.  In first half stoppage time, she would pick up a nice low cross from Alex Morgan, sliding to reach the ball, which slid right past Kim Jungmi.  Even after breaking the record, the crowd at Red Bull Arena erupted.  “Fantastic,” was the one word Wambach used to describe the crowd here tonight, “They were energized the entire time.  I think it’s exciting for people to come and watch a world record be broken.  You could feel it when the first goal goes in, you can feel it when I missed the breakaway.  Everybody was really into it the entire time, so I’m very very thankful to have done it in New York City; great fans, fans…18-19,000 people, it’s brilliant.”

With a dominating four goal lead, the first half whistle blew, giving the fans some time to exhale.

Second Half:

Yes, there was still a second half to play, but Wambach wouldn’t be a part of it for very long.  She would be subbed off in favor of Christen Press in the 58th minute, leaving the field to a standing ovation and hugs from her teammates.  Much like the fans in the first half, Wambach had time now to take it all in.

The US would indeed pick up another goal to make it a 5-0 match.  Lauren Cheney, picking up a header from Megan Rapinoe, would blast the shot into the back of the net, capping off a great night for her team.  Players like Sydney Leroux and Christen Press both had some big chances to add to that lead throughout the second, but both players were well covered by the South Koreans, forcing them to take shots that sometimes didn’t have much of a chance.  Either way, it wouldn’t end up having any effect on the outcome of the match, as the USWNT would go on to win handily.

“I was delighted with the performance tonight,” coach Tom Sermanni said about the overall performance of his team, “To be fair, I thought we looked at some stuff from the last game that we felt we didn’t do that well, and immediately rectified that tonight.  Press came in especially well; she kept the ball in their half.  I thought some of the combination play was outstanding and I just, overall, tonight was the kind of performance that you expect from a US National Team, I was really delighted.”

As far as Wambach breaking the record and her four goal match? “Fairy tale night.  We couldn’t have done it any better, just fantastic.  You know, she’s a great professional, she’s in great shape, you know, she was really determined tonight to go out there and break that record and she did it in great style.”

Match Notes:

The one big question to come out of all this now that Abby has broken the record is, ‘what’s next?’  What does she do now? When asked if this brings her focus fully on qualifying for the 2015 World Cup in Canada, she had this to say, “I’ve never really been focused on breaking the record, truthfully.  For me, it’s getting my body to 100% physical health and fitness so that I can be performing at my peak in 2015 for Canada.  Of course, qualifications, we got to get to Canada first, but you know, two years away, aging body, I just gotta 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.”

For Wambach and the rest of her teammates, they now have some time off from national play, as there will be no more friendlies until the inaugural NWSL season wraps up.  It’s a nice respite for a team that has been go, go, go ever since the Olympics ended last summer, giving them a real opportunity to focus on league play fully for really, the first time.  In the immediate future?  Wambach and the rest of the USWNT have some celebrating to do tonight.