By FRANCO PANIZO
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Abby Wambach is excited about the prospects of making history and potentially breaking Mia Hamm’s all-time scoring record some time soon. In the same breath, Wambach just wants to get it over and done with so that the focus can shift elsewhere.
Two goals shy of Hamm’s 158 international goals, Wambach is well aware that she will soon break a record that many believed to be insurpassable. But the U.S. Women’s National Team forward has known that for several months now and she’s been asked about it ad nauseam while also being compared to Hamm at length by both fans and media, deserved attention considering the nature of the milestone but attention that is more than Wambach likely could have ever asked for.
“The fact that it possibly could get done here in the United States, that’s exciting,” the recently-turned 33-year-old Wambach said following the U.S.’s practice on Tuesday. “That brings more excitement to games that might not be necessarily so exciting to come watch … but the truth is, the sooner I can get over with it and move on looking towards (the World Cup in) 2015, the better.”
Wambach is not the only one who wants to see the illustrious record broken already. U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni is also publicly hoping that his veteran striker ties and passes Hamm’s total in the not too distant future, and it appears as if he will give Wambach a lengthy opportunity to do so in Thursday’s friendly at Red Bull Arena against a Korea Republic team that the Americans defeated, 4-1, over the weekend.
“She will (go the distance) if she’s feeling up to 90 minutes in this game,” said Sermanni, who brought Wambach off the bench at halftime of last Saturday’s victory at Gillette Stadium. “Not so much to get the goals out of the way, but we kind of in these games, with them being kind of in the middle of their season, we’re juggling game time with players because some of these players have games in two days’ time, so it would be unwise to play them for 90 minutes.
“It’s not the two goal thing, there’s a few other factors involved when we’re sort of determining game time.”
While it may seem to some like Wambach is not fully cherishing the process of outdoing Hamm’s record, the truth lies in the contrary. Wambach feels privileged to be in the position she is in right now, as it is a scenario she never really envisioned for herself and one that she feels came to be because of her overall good health and the talented U.S. teammates she played alongside throughout the years.
In fact, Wambach paid respect by talking to Hamm a few weeks ago about the record and Hamm was fully into the idea of Wambach setting the bar higher for the next generation of players.
“She’s a huge supporter of it being broken, because what that is and what that means for her is that she’s helping the game continue to grow,” said Wambach. “Me breaking the record means the game has grown, even in the time that she’s not been playing. Ultimately, I know her very well and I know she would say that’s more important than a record.
“She singlehandedly put female sports on the map. She was the face, and still is in large part in women in sport, and I couldn’t be more honored to be in this position to break a record that she set so long ago and nobody thought anybody would be able to break it.”