U.S. Women's National Team

Wambach breaks leg, will miss Olympics


                                                                                  Photos by ISIphotos.com

The U.S. women’s Olympic team’s worst nightmare has happened.

U.S. forward Abby Wambach broke her left leg during the U.S. team’s match against Brazil on Wednesday night in San Diego (a 1-0 USA win) and now she will miss the Olympics.

Wambach broke the leg after a collision with a Brazilian defender in what was the U.S. team’s final warm-up match before heading to China for the Olympics.

Wambach suffered fractures in both the tibia and fibula in her left leg, an injury that usually requires three months to recover from.

What do you think of this development? Can the USA win gold without Wambach? Are the Americans in danger of not even medaling now? Who will pick up the scoring slack?

Share your thoughts below.

  • steve b

    Uh Oh!!! I think the US will still medal, but it would be foolish to take anything for granted any more. Good luck!


  • IHateDC

    Maybe we shouldn’t play potential rivals for the gold in friendlies too close to the tournament. Remember Tab’s concussion? Brazil doesn’t just play beautiful football.


  • papa bear

    if they don’t medal it’s a disappointment. Rodriguez and Kai are more than capable of picking up the slack (as they showed last night) It’s just up to the ladies to modify their style which was heavily slanted towards Wambach. I think they did well against a thuggish Brazil side in making the adjustment.

    Heather Mitts. Sorry every post about the USWNT has to have a Mitts Mention.


  • Lee

    Karma man. Thats what she gets for being a complete fucktard to Hope Solo last year in the world cup.


  • KingSnake

    “She broke her leg” … or … “She had her leg broken for her”? The first implies it was an accident; the latter that it was more deliberate.


  • Sven-Goran E.

    If (or when) you lose one of your stars due to injury, the quality of your coaching really matters. Pia S. has a new selection headache (adding a forward), and will have to discover/generate new chemistry on the field. Americans should be glad at least that Pia S., and not Greg R., will be putting the finishing touches on this team and getting them ready to play without one of their star attackers.


  • Elmer

    The team is in a tough spot. They are still a very good team, and should medal, but a gold would be asking a lot. They were only able to defeat Brazil by scores of 1-0 and 1-0 when Brazil was playing without Marta and several other key players and the US had Wambach (their most important player).


  • Ted

    In the long run, this might be good for the team. They need to know how to play without Abby. Kai, Tarpley, O’Reilly, Lloyd and Rodriguez can do enough in the attack to win a gold medal.

    I’m not saying it isn’t a blow, but I think they can deal with it.

    I also mention Heather Mitts.


  • John

    With prior coaching staffs (Heinrichs, etc.) this would have been the deathblow. We played direct physical soccer that couldn’t succeed without freekicks and Wambach. Under Sundhage, the team is stroking the ball around more, playing more possession ball. So tactically the team is capable of handling this and actually even doing better (because there won’t be that tendency to say “let’s just kick it up top and see if Abby can do something”.

    Here’s the thing that concerns me: the US has lost their 2 best finishers from the past 4 years–Wambach and Susan Lilly. They’ve lost 3 other starters (Osbourne, Whitehall and another I can’t remember). Was the only reason Wambach and Lilly scored goals because of the tactical ineptitude of the prior coaches or because the other players weren’t finishers? If it was the tactics than the USA wins the gold. Because Sundhage is good, the team is deep and athletic. If it is an issue about lack of finishing ability, than this is a team that will lose matches against the run of play, bombard teams with shots and then win 1-0.

    And it’s not a mistake to play Brazil in a friendly. That injury could have happened in any match. One edge the USA has is in being match sharp (from having long camps and lots of NT matches). As we learned under Steve-o “I’d play 12 men in midfield if they’d let me” Sampson, playing friendlies against the likes of Kuwait prior to a big tournament does not prepare you for that big tournament.


  • Al17

    Karma man. Thats what she gets for being a complete fucktard to Hope Solo last year in the world cup.

    Posted by: Lee

    Something is seriously wrong with you. You should see Psychiatric help. A person breaks their leg and you’re talking Karma??


  • Kevin

    Amy Rodriguez will have to step up, and I think she can. She seems to have the speed and on the ball skills to take on players, and more importantly, seems willing to take them on. Natasha Kai can hopefully pick up the slack in the air on set pieces. They can always move Aly Wagner or Lindsey Tarpley up front, push Lori Chalupny back to midfield and start Stephanie Cox at left back.

    It’ll hurt, but they just have to dig deep and over come.


  • DL

    Actually Mike, many people care about women’s soccer.

    If you want, you can write your own blog about everything not related to women’s soccer. Until then, don’t be a douchebag.


  • Bill

    I watched it happen; the replays especially in slow motion, were pretty gruesome. What I couldn’t get over was how composed Abby was right after it happened — she just laid there on the field and motioned to the sidelines for help. If I snapped both bones in my lower leg, I would’ve probably screamed like a baby (and, incidentally, crapped my pants).


  • Roehl

    “Who cares about women’s soccer? cover something that matters”

    Uh, all the people that commented before and after you, genius.

    I think the days where the WNT was a consistent gold medalist are long gone; they were no sure thing even before Wambach went down to injury. I have to agree with everyone else that they’ll make the medal rounds and they might have a better than 50-50 shot at making the final. If it’s Brazil they’re facing they might demonstrate they’re snake-bitten.


  • kpugs

    “Who cares about women’s soccer? cover something that matters”

    I couldn’t agree more. Let’s start by covering Mike’s stupidity, ignorance, tiny genitals, etc.


  • Larry

    Ouch. She was the only undoubtedly all-world player on the US WNT. There’s no other target forward on the team, is there?


  • Tim

    Agreed, Papa Bear, every USWNT thread should at least mention Heather Mitts- haha!

    This injury is definitely bad. However, I think there are many capable substitutes like Natasha Kai and Angela Hucles. Hucles in particular is a more of a veteran that will provide some experience, and has shown the ability to put “screamers” in the back of the net from 30-40 yards out.

    I think this injury may also force the WNT to play a little better midfield soccer, developing their attacks from there with sound passing, rather than trying to launch balls over the top for the taller Wambach. Wambach has 99 career goals, but with 40+ on headers. That should tell you something about the WNT offensive style.


  • Brims

    Good point about midfield play Tim. I heard the number on her goals coming from a header and was surprised it was so high.


  • Bill 2

    Anyone who has a daughter and loves them should care about women’s soccer.

    Stinks for Abby. She will be an American legend along with Hamm, Lilly, Foudy, Akers, Chastain, Fawcett, Wynalda, Fridel, Balboa, Ramos, and Reyna.


  • ja

    regardless of personal preferance about style, abby is one of the greatest women to ever hit the field and she will be missed however, she even said it herself….she believes in the team. we have seen it before, they really come together when they need to regardless of poor circumstance. if they are able to get their mid field together and keep the pressure on, they are going to be deadly. they have really improved. ab has carried this team into victory many times and now its time for a few other girls to step it up. kai is on her game right now. she will be back. . .she will score her hundreth goal and continue to be the face of the us womens team.


  • ja

    —–btw lee, dont be such an idiot. you have no idea what it talkes to be on a team like that I am sure (based on your comment) and what hope did although she was justified in many peoples eyes, was unheard of if you have any integrity as a team player. they have all been able to grow passed it and come toghether on the field. hope is an amazing player. . . .no question. . .but abby is too and this is NOT linked to that in anyway. come on man.


  • YakimaShorty

    This is awful.

    This leaves the US thin at forward. I’m not too keen on a a Kai/Rodriguez strike pair. Maybe they should go with a lone striker and slot Carli Lloyd up further in the attacking midfield position.


  • YakimaShorty

    BTW Ives, you should be doing way more on women’s soccer. Especially with the WPS coming into existence next year.


  • Tim

    YakimaShorty, I don’t think we’re as “thin” as you think. You could easily bring in Hucles into the MF, and move Tarpley forward with Rodriguez. You then move Chalupney, who has played plenty of MF in the past, off the back line into the MF with Hucles, Boxx, and Lloyd, and bring in somebody like Stephanie Cox onto the back line. This set, or something similar, could certainly be a potent and capable team in the Olympics.


  • Jamie Z.

    Karma man. Thats what she gets for being a complete fucktard to Hope Solo last year in the world cup.

    Posted by: Lee | July 17, 2008 at 07:11 AM


    I hope you’re being sarcastic.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people still rush to Hope Solo’s defense at the slightest opportunity. I don’t care whether you’re Terrell Owens, any of a number of flamboyant Latin footballers, or a marginally attractive blonde female keeper — calling out your coach in public (even if he is wrong) and undermining team unity is bad form and should not be condoned, let alone supported. Hope Solo is not a martyr.

    Your lack of empathy in regard to Abby’s injury is your own business, but your public attitude regarding the issue is pretty warped.


  • A.S.

    Yeah, this sucks. I don’t follow the women’s team much, but was certainly interested in the Olympics after the Hope Solo fiasco at the WC. I would think the interest in the Olymipcs will be very high given the publicity the Solo situation garnered, and I hope the team can live up to the interest given Wambach’s injury.

    Any chance the mens team can loan the women Mastroeni to take out Marta? (Kidding!)


  • onionsack

    I think they were the favorites for the gols prior to this injury, they have been on fire since Pia took over. But Abby is truly on the shortlist for the best womens player in the world.

    There really isnt any prolific scorer for the US outside her. The US is deep enough to medal regardless but unless someone really steps up in Abby’s role they are going to struggle against the top other medal favorites Brazil and Germany.


  • onionsack

    Say what you want about Solo, she was proven right in the end. You may not agree with how she went about it, but she was 100% vindicated.

    She spoke the truth, and was villified for it by her coach and some of the “older players”.

    The GK decision was schocking, Solo critisized it, she was right in what she said…maybe just not in how she said it. S


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    To those of you who don’t understand what “karma” has to do with Wambach, read the following story from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl:


    What Wambach, Lilly, Whitehill et al did to an emotionally vulnerable person was nothing short of diabolical.

    Now, it’s very interested what has happened to many of the protagonists of that conspiracy:

    Lilly: Pregnant and unable to compete in the Olympics. International future uncertain.

    Briana Scurry, who could have ended the whole controversy with one public word yet refused to do so: Demoted to third on the depth chart. Olympic action unlikely, international career likely over.

    Cat Whitehill, who sold out her “best friend” (Solo) by accusing her of manipulating her father’s death to get publicity for herself: torn knee ligament. Out of Olympics, international career uncertain.

    Wambach: Devastating injury. Out of Olympics, international career uncertain.

    Now, I have no problem with such players competing in the WPS. I just want their sorry self-absorbed posteriors off the WNT, now and forever.

    Karma, indeed

    And, yes, I hope the U.S. wins gold in Beijing. That will secure Pia’s tenure as head coach and spell doom for the international careers of Wambach, Whitehill, Lilly and Scurry.


  • Matt in SF

    Actually Kai’s strike rate in 2008 has been very Wambach-like. I’m more concerned about who else will be an offensive threat in addition to Kai.

    As far as the Hope Solo thing goes, I would imagine she would prefer to put the ’07 WC in the past, so why don’t all of the Solo partisans drop it? There are a lot of players on the USWNT, and this story has nothing to do with Hope. I would imagine she feels chagrined and embarassed about the whole thing, so continuing to bring it up can’t be all that great for her.

    Now if Scurry calls a press conference immediately after the US is knocked out of the Olympics and castigates Pia for not choosing her, and says there’s no doubt in her mind that she would have saved every shot that Solo let in…well then that would be a story. But I don’t see a her making such a crybaby move.


  • soccerroo

    I did not think they would do better than 3rd in this tournament so I think it could make the medal round ify with this loss. I hope the coach is able to work some magic because the womens team is always a great story to follow.


  • VM in DC

    Abby is irreplaceable. You don’t even try to replace a player like her. You simply change the way you were doing things completely.

    Hope Solo is a great goalkeeper who made a mistake off the field and learned some hard lessons last year about becoming a world class teammate. And she got off easy.

    That said, anyone who keeps bringing her up in forums like this does need counselling.


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    And (Solo) got off easy.

    Really? Read the following from Wahl’s story:

    Only the bathtub brought relief. In the days after the 2007 Women’s World Cup, amid the grief and the anger and the despair, Hope Solo sought refuge in the one place that eased the pain afflicting her entire body. She repaired to a corner of her home in Kirkland, Wash., drew the hottest bath possible, lowered herself into the water and dozed off, stirring only to crawl out and lie flat on the bathroom floor when the temperature became too much. The routine would go on for hours: tub, floor, tub, floor, tub, floor.

    “I couldn’t sleep in my bed because my body just ached, so I’d start the bathtub,” she says. “If that’s what depression is, I think I hit it. I was a wreck.”

    Solo’s world was collapsing. Her father, Jeffrey, had died of a heart attack in June, three months before the World Cup in China. Her best friend, Elizabeth Duncan, had been struck by a car and killed while jogging in Seattle in April. Now Solo’s career was hanging in the balance. In late September, on the eve of the Cup semifinal against Brazil, U.S. coach Greg Ryan had made the stunning decision to bench her in favor of veteran Briana Scurry, despite Solo’s three straight World Cup shutouts. After the U.S.’s 4-0 loss, Solo erupted.

    “It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that,” she told a Canadian reporter, adding that it was no longer 2004 — a jab, many thought, at Scurry, the keeper on the U.S. team that won the Olympic gold medal in Athens. Then came the kicker: “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.”

    Dissatisfied with her qualified apologies, Ryan and Solo’s teammates banished her from the third-place game against Norway, from attending the medal ceremony, from eating at team meals, from the team’s flight home. Solo returned to Seattle and faced a decision. With the Olympics less than a year away, should the U.S.’s top goalie give up soccer at age 26? Leave America for a club team in Europe? Or rejoin her still-angry U.S. teammates in St. Louis for a three-game tour just two weeks after the World Cup, as her contract called for.

    For two weeks she retreated to the bathtub. She lost 10 pounds. She stopped answering phone calls and e-mails from friends. “I wanted to give up,” Solo says. “Why show up somewhere where 20-plus people hate you? But I was going to be there to prove to everybody that you can’t determine somebody’s career by whether you like them or not.”

    If that’s “getting off easy,” then I’m Pele, Maradona and George Best combined.


  • Eba Jones

    One question I have is how the team is picked. For instance Ali Krieger is an alternate it appears primarily because she was playing in Europe with Frankfurt 1 and could not devote herself full time to the team. Our men’s team takes this into account but not the women. Our opponents do the same. Oh by the way her team won the UEFA title (she is the only U.S. woman to do this), she played against Marta twice in the championship round, plays with Pia everyday in practice, is considered one of the top defenders in the most competative league in the world,and starts for that team which has 11 world cup players, and when they suffered injuries mid-season moved to midfield just as she had done as an all american at Penn State. I am just wondering whether caps and hanging out are more important then the level of competition.


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