The US women's national team has bid farewell to Shannon Boxx, Lauren Holiday, and Lori Chalupny already this month. And today, we mark the official on-field end of perhaps the greatest of all, Abby Wambach. Olympic gold medalist, WUSA champion, and of course, all-time international goal-scoring leader, Wambach epitomized the strong, determined, American spirit that....
You know what, no, I'm not going to do it. Abby Wambach's gone, and I'm relieved and happy. I don't know what went more stale more quickly, her lead feet on the field, or her clay feet off of it. But I've long since had enough of both.
What? Did she die rescuing a busload of puppies from drowning in a sea of puppy-eating kittens? No. She left a sport that was very good to her, on her own terms, as a world champion. I can say nasty things about her if I want, it's not her damn funeral.
I realize this will sound like the old fools who weeped when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record, but Wambach and Marta between them will go down in history as the players who helped women's soccer referees call fouls and dives. There will never be others like them. Instead, we might end up with soccer players. Sure, Mia Hamm got a lot of her goals five at a time in World Cup games against Chinese Taipei and Chinese Taipei Reserves. But at least Mia Hamm didn't Bill Laimbeer her way to glory. And Mia Hamm had a China with Sun Wen, while Abby Wambach played against the One Child Rule All-Star Team.
But Mia played alongside the greatest players in the history of the sport! So did Abby - for all we know. Coaches either ordered her teammates to lump it up to her, or were fired in favor of coaches who would.
"Hey, Shannon Boxx was around in 2007, too. Hey, Shannon Boxx was on magicJack, too. Why are you only hanging gasoline-filled tires around Abby's neck?"
Because Boxx wasn't the public face of those - I wish I knew German, I'm sure they have a word for a baby seal hunt that ends with the hunters clubbing each other to death before being eaten by the seals' mom. It was Abby Wambach, along with Kristine Lilly, who decided to make an example of Hope Solo for a semifinal debacle she wasn't on the field for. And it was Abby Wambach who volunteered to coach a mini-US national team in Boca Raton while singing the praises of a man who harassed underlings and flattered stars like Wambach.
Solo and Wambach are pals now, of course, which shows how much the example of Wambach's leadership and friendship made in turning Hope's life around.
I've gone over that to death, as well as Abby playing Jodie Foster to Megan Rapinoe's Martina Navratilova, as well as the utter and complete debacle that was the FieldTurf lawsuit. From human rights crusader to lawn care shill, with zero public consequences. Her mouth wrote checks that - well, her mouth wrote checks that got her real checks she could cash. No need to guess where Alex Morgan learned to chase dollar bills like they were Pokémon.
But at least she stuck around long enough to help her hometown Western New York Flash this year - just kidding. Of course she was the only one who bailed on her club team to focus on the World Cup. At least Landon Donovan showed up for the Galaxy eventually. Why, the Flash are so proud of her, they even mention her in passing. (They may not have their own retrospective up this soon, to be fair.
And now she's gone. And of course there was no way to do this while not managing to upstage Boxx, Holiday, Chalupny, and oh by the way the World Cup team's visit to the White House. (And not that Hall of Fame arcana will mean much, but this makes sure that Abby will be on the same ballot as Boxx, Holiday, and Chalupny in their first year. She would have swamped anyone in her year, to be fair, but this makes sure that she takes down as many of her ex-teammates as possible.)
Apparently there will be one last game for her, against China in New Orleans. I hope we get stomped.
On the other hand, that was a cute kiss at the World Cup. With the wife that she now deigns to acknowledge in public.
And wipe that look off your face, gentle reader. If she had been German, you'd have been booing her off of fields around the world for 15 years.
I'd say good riddance, but we all know damn well she's going to coach the USWNT one day. Let's hope she doesn't have Klinsmann's agent.