Wambach to play her 200th with US soccer team
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Abby Wambach simply laughs when asked about playing her 200th game for the U.S. women's national team. The 2012 FIFA Player of the Year is far too busy playing to dwell on her accomplishments.
"Hopefully I'll think about those more when I retire,'' Wambach said Tuesday.
"I'm not really big on personal accolades and awards. It's just not my style. So for me, it's another game. It's exciting, I guess. I don't know. It's hard to explain because I don't really put that much value on that kind of stuff. I put value on wins. I put value on championships.''
With 152 goals, the 33-year-old foreard enters Wednesday's exhibition against Scotland six from the world record set by Mia Hamm from 1987-04. Only seven Americans have appeared in more international matches.
Midfielder Shannon Boxx called it a huge accomplishment.
"We don't have that many players that have been able to get to that level,'' American midfielder Shannon Boxx said. "I think it's her day tomorrow, and we can hopefully celebrate it with her. Hopefully, she'll get a goal to continue her strength and her power.''
Kristine Lilly tops the U.S. list with 352 appearances. Defender Christie Rampone was set for her 278th on Wednesday night, while the others include Hamm (275), Julie Foudy (272), Joy Fawcett (239), Tiffeny Milbrett (204) and Kate Markgraf (201).
"She's an amazing, amazing player and an amazing person,'' defender Ali Krieger said. "Great role model for this team, and she's our leader. She's one of the best forwards in the world, obviously the best player this past year in the world, and we're lucky to have her. She's going strong, and I hope that we win for her and this team and that she scores a few goals just to make it 10 times better.''
Wambach credits being the youngest of seven for understanding the approach needed to play within a team and great coaches over the years believing in her for allowing her to reach 200 caps in her career.
"There's so many great players in this country, and a lot of it does kind of fall down to a coach's opinion for better or for worse,'' Wambach said. "I've had really great coaches that really believed in me and put me on the field and gave me the responsibility of scoring goals for this team for a lot of years. That's a responsibility I take very seriously. Two hundred, 100, whatever we're talking about, if we're winning that game, that's the most important thing for me.''
The forward talked with reporters before practice at LP Field, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. She then poised for photos with a boy thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation before bringing him onto the field to kick around a soccer ball with herself and then other teammates during warm-ups.
Wambach doesn't sound as if she's thinking of retirement anytime soon either. The Americans are busy learning the philosophy of new coach Tom Sermanni, the Scot who spent the last eight years as Australia's national team coach. He opened with a 4-1 Saturday over his native country.
The national team will be heading to Portugal after Sermanni chooses his roster for the Algarve Cup. More than 12,000 tickets have been sold for Wednesday, giving the U.S. a chance to top the Tennessee record of 13,081 who saw the U.S. women beat Sweden 3-1 in Chattanooga in 1997.
"It's an exciting time to be on this team,'' Wambach said. "Obviously, I'm in the latter parts of my years, but I'm excited to see what's ahead for this team.''
Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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