The United States women’s national soccer team defeated South Korea 5-0 in an international friendly last night at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. That isn’t what made the night special however. With an astonishing four goals on the night, Abby Wambach has become the all time leading goal scorer in international soccer history.
Coming into the night, the storied Mia Hamm held the record for international goals scored with 158, which she finished her career with in 2004 that saw her compete in 275 international matches. Wambach surpassed the mark set by her former teammate in just 29 minutes last night. Scoring three times in the first half hour of the match, she broke the record and headed towards the United States’ bench to bask in the moment.
The 159th goal came off of a set piece. Megan Rapinoe struck a beautiful corner kick that was headed in a line drive fashion into the back of the net by Wambach. Rapinoe jumped on Wambach as she headed towards the United States bench. Teammates both on the field and from the bench mobbed her to celebrate as the crowd erupted with the news.
Playing in just 207 games, 58 less than Hamm played in, the record seems likely to be shattered by Wambach. In case you were wondering, no male international soccer player is close to the mark the 160 mark set last night. Abby Wambach is by far soccer’s leading scorer at the international level, Iran’s Ali Daie has the male record with 108 international goals.
Always a class act, Abby Wambach didn’t gloat in her newly earned record. In her interview with reporters following the conclusion of their blowout victory over South Korea, she discussed her accomplishments and legacy.
“I don’t think about how I sit in history, in the books. What my legacy is, that is something I do care about, and something that has eluded me is a World Cup championship. I think every great athlete in these moments, you do have to separate yourself and really celebrate. I am going to celebrate tonight with my friends and family, but at the end of the day, tomorrow when the sun comes up, I still have to keep working on my game to get better. I think that is what the best athletes do. They don’t dwell on their championships or records. As soon as they win one, all you want to do is find something new and move toward that.”
Mia Hamm also had nothing but good things to say about her friend and former teammate who broke her record. Not focusing on her loss, but her friends gain, she told Wambach via Twitter, “Congratulations @AbbyWambach. So proud of you, my friend. You are a warrior and true champion. Enjoy this.”
Abby Wambach is now soccer’s all time leading scorer at the international level. American soccer is still developing its fan base, and records like this are what makes the sport exciting. With players achieving milestones and accomplishments like the United States national teams have been able to lately, the popularity of the sport should continue to grow in the United States.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express