Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
HARRISON, N.J. — Abby Wambach did more than just make history on Thursday. She also inspired the U.S. Women’s National Team to their latest lopsided victory of the year.
Wambach delivered a four-goal performance that catapulted the U.S. to an easy 5-0 win over Korea Republic at Red Bull Arena and saw her break Mia Hamm’s all-time scoring record of 158 international goals on Thursday night. All of Wambach’s goals came in the first half of a match played in front of 18,961 fans and the 33-year-old striker’s impressive outing helped improve the U.S. to 9-0-3 under head coach Tom Sermanni.
Wambach tied Hamm’s illustrious record when she scored her second of the match in the 19th minute off a feed from Lauren Cheney, and the veteran forward surpassed it ten minutes later when she nodded home a Megan Rapinoe corner that sent the crowd and her teammates into a frenzy.
“It’s special, not only because I could tell my teammates tried to get those balls in the first half but my family was here, great crowd, great team performance,” said Wambach. “I can’t say enough about how much I look up to Mia and how amazing the record that she set was. My teammates have put me in all different types of positions to score goals and I can’t say enough and I really truly, truly believe in my heart I’m only as good as my teammates allow me to be. … I can’t thank my teammates enough.”
Wambach started her special night by scoring at the 10-minute mark, netting with a low effort following a short cross from Cheney. Wambach was stymied by Korea Republic goalkeeper Kim Jungmi on a clean breakaway a minute later, but Wambach made up for that miss by doubling the Americans’ lead and tying Hamm’s record with a perfectly-placed, diving header shortly thereafter.
History was then made in the 29th minute, as Megan Rapinoe delivered a corner kick from the right that Wambach headed home from close range. The goal broke Hamm’s record and saw all the U.S. players, from goalkeeper Hope Solo to the ones on the bench, race over to Wambach to celebrate the special moment.
“I’m really happy it was a header, truth be told,” said Wambach. “Obviously, set pieces are my favorite things and heading the ball is something that I’ve proven to do pretty well.”
Wambach, who was playing in front of her family and substituted to a load ovation in the 58th minute, was not done either. She scored her fourth of the match a minute into first-half stoppage time, knocking in a shot from close range following a left-footed pass from Alex Morgan.
“I’m just so proud of Abby,” said Morgan. “It’s pure Abby fashion to be all or nothing, it would be the game that she scores four goals, that she crushes Mia’s record. I’m just so excited and happy to be a part of it and a part of this experience.”
Korea Republic, who rarely threatened the U.S. goal, benefited from a surplus of American substitutions in the second half but still conceded one more time in the 64th minute. Cheney capped the scoring when she headed home a cross from the left from substitute Kelley O’Hara, giving the U.S. players and fans another reason to celebrate during a historic match that will be remembered for Wambach’s record-breaking performance.
“Fairytale night, couldn’t have done it any better, just fantastic,” said Sermanni. “(Wambach is) a great professional, she’s in great shape and she was really determined tonight to go out there and break that record and she did it (in) great style.”
What do you think of the U.S.’s 5-0 win over Korea Republic? How impressed were you by Wambach’s performance? Which players do you think really stood out in the game?
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