Abby Wambach is on the verge of breaking a record that was once thought to be unbreakable.
Wambach is two goals away from tying Mia Hamm atop the United States women’s national team scoring chart. Currently sitting on 156 career international goals, Wambach, who is also third on the all-time assists list with 61, will take on South Korea with her teammates at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night.
During their free-to-the-public training session on Wednesday at the home of the New York Red Bulls, Wambach caught up with B/R to talk about her chase of Hamm and a few other hot topics in the women’s game at the moment.
Joe Tansey: I know you have probably talked about it for a few weeks now, but what are your thoughts on potentially breaking Mia’s record?
Abby Wambach: Scoring goals on the international level is not easy; I would like to move past this as quickly as possible. It would mean that I’m helping my team win games. Then we could start focusing some more of our attention toward 2015.
It’s great for women’s sports and women’s soccer. I’m honored to be in this position, but I’ve never been the type of person that likes to talk about myself. I don’t score any of those goals that are tallied on the sheet without a teammate.
If I am fortunate enough to break the record, I hope whoever gives me the pass is someone who understands the ramifications (of the record).
JT: Over the generations, there has been a passing of the torch in the USWNT. First it was Mia Hamm to you and now you to Alex Morgan. How important is it for the sport to have a familiar face for casual fans to associate with the women’s game?
AW: It is important for the sport to be able to put a face with the sport. It’s a burden to carry, and I understand that a little bit, but I think Alex will understand that in a different way. She will probably cross over into the mainstream, which I think is awesome because it will grow the sport even more.
Every team needs to have the one or two players to call upon in big moments to do the work and make things happen. Alex has proven in 2011 and 2012 and all the way up to now that she deserves to play 90 minutes every game. It’s been a joy to watch her grow up, and it’s now fun to combine with her in the lineup.
If I’m lucky enough to break the scoring record, I’m sure Alex will shatter it.
JT: Playing on natural grass has been a major talking point as of late. Seattle put down temporary grass over a turf field for its recent United States men’s national team game, and it received mixed feedback. How big of an issue is playing on natural grass as opposed to turf?
AW: It’s a really big deal. Looking ahead, the fact that the 2015 World Cup is being played on all turf is disappointing. You train your entire life for the one chance to win the World Cup on grass, and turf completely changes the game.
It’s a faster surface; it puts you in a position to think more than you should on sliding tackles. From a fan’s perspective, the game is played differently, and unfortunately we may not have a say. I absolutely prefer natural grass.
This isn’t just a women’s soccer issue; I think it will eventually become a worldwide football issue.
JT: How do you think the new National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has done in its inaugural season, given the failure of previous women’s domestic leagues here in America?
AW: I’m really encouraged by the amount of fans and the excitement surrounding some of these franchises. In Portland, they are still getting big crowds of over 10,000, and that shows something to the current NWSL owners and other potential owners that if we follow what the Portland Thorns have done, maybe we can have something similar to MLS in the future.
JT: The United States men’s national team is in the middle of some great form at the moment. How closely have you followed the recent matches?
AW: I watched every minute of the game against Honduras. Clint Dempsey was a bit unlucky in front of goal. Thankfully, we have Jozy Altidore, who is playing out of his mind and possibly single-handedly pushing them through to Brazil.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.