Abby Wambach’s Most Important USWNT Goals

Jul 5, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; United States forward Abby Wambach (20) celebrates after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. United States won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; United States forward Abby Wambach (20) celebrates after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. United States won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports /

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years, you’ve probably heard the name Abby Wambach before. Abby Wambach went from being a Florida Gator to being one of the greatest women’s soccer players in history. She would play 255 games for the USWNT and would score 184 goals.

Not as many people are aware that Abby Wambach attended the University of Florida from 1998 to 2001. She led Florida to its lone women’s soccer national championship in 1998. After her Florida Gator soccer career, she would get called up to play for the women’s national team, where she would remain integral to the roster until 2015.

With the Women’s World Cup starting this Friday, it is worth taking a look at which of Abby Wambach’s goals were the most important to the USWNT?

Florida Gator Alum Honorable Mention: First-Ever Goal for the USWNT 

On April 27th, 2002, Abby Wambach would score her first-ever goal for the USWNT in a 3-0 friendly win over Finland. Abby Wambach would score the first goal of the game in the 7th minute before assisting the second goal of the game in the 30th minute. Abby Wambach’s career is so legendary that her first goal couldn’t make it into the top 5, but it is worth mentioning the goal that started it all.

5. Abby Wambach Leads USWNT over Norway in 2003 

Abby Wambach was making just her 18th appearance for the USWNT in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Women’s World Cup. She had already scored two goals in the group stage, but this goal cemented Abby Wambach as the future leader of this women’s national team.

Abby Wambach would score in the 24th minute with a header that the goalkeeper got a hand on but couldn’t keep out of the net. Team USA would hold on for the 1-0 win. Unfortunately, the USA would finish in third place. While finishing third was disappointing for the defending world champions, Abby Wambach played well and cemented her place in the USWNT.

4. Abby Wambach helps USWNT top their group in 2015 Women’s World Cup

When the USWNT roster for the 2015 World Cup was released, many fans weren’t sure of the role that Abby Wambach would play. She had just turned 35 years old and was well past the prime of her career. Some fans felt like she was gifted a roster spot because the Women’s World Cup was the one big accomplishment that Abby Wambach had yet to win at this point in her career. Not to mention the USWNT hadn’t won the tournament since 1999 and were seeking revenge for how close they got to winning the tournament in 2011, it is understandable that fans were anxious.

But Abby Wambach did what Abby Wambach had always been the best at scoring a goal in a big moment. Coming into this final group stage game, the USWNT was in a good place to advance. Nigeria was going to do everything it could to grab at least a point from the USWNT. On the stroke of halftime, Abby Wambach would lose her defender on a corner kick and scored a left-footed volley. The USWNT would go on to win their group and, eventually, the whole tournament. Abby Wambach would finish her USWNT career as a world champion.

3. Abby Wambach saves the USWNT against Canada

The USWNT came into the 2012 Olympics with high hopes. After narrowly missing out on winning the 2011 World Cup, they wanted to prove that they were still the team to beat. They met Canada in the semi-finals, and, thanks to a Christine Sinclair hat-trick, the USWNT found themselves trailing 3-2 in the 79th minute.

The USWNT would be awarded a penalty kick thanks to a handball in the box by a Canadian defender. Abby Wambach would step up and slot the penalty in the bottom left corner. This goal would send the game to extra time, where Alex Morgan would score the game-winner. The USWNT would go on to claim the gold medal by getting revenge against Japan. It’s hard to imagine the USWNT winning gold without this brilliant penalty by Wambach.

2. Abby Wambach wins the USWNT a Gold Medal

Abby Wambach would get her first taste of glory with the USWNT in the 2004 Olympic Games. Abby Wambach would score three goals in five games to lead the USWNT to the finals. But she wouldn’t stop there.

The USWNT would score first in the 39th minute before Brazil equalized in the 79th minute. The first half of extra time would see the teams stay deadlocked. But in the 112th minute, Abby Wambach would rise above everyone else on a corner kick and head the ball home. The USWNT would hold on for the final ten minutes to win the gold medal.

1. Abby Wambach saves the USWNT at the Death

If you follow women’s soccer at all, you probably already know what goal is #1 on this list. In the 2011 World Cup, the USWNT would have a tough draw against Brazil in the quarterfinals thanks to the USWNT finishing second in their group behind Sweden.

Brazil was one of the best teams in the world at this time. After playing to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, Brazil would score just two minutes into extra time. With a 2-1 lead, they set back and defended. The USWNT could not find a way through. That is until Abby Wambach scored a header after the Brazil goalkeeper came out to punch the ball away but miscalculated the timing. She would miss the punch, and the ball would fall to Wambach, and she would calmly head it into the back of the net.

The USWNT would go on to win this game through penalty kicks. They would make it all the way to the final before falling to Japan (also from penalty kicks). Had the USWNT lost in the quarter-finals, the US Soccer Federation probably would have looked into making changes. Abby Wambach’s goal was the glue that held this team together.

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