Abby Wambach: Team USA's Gold Medal Hopes Lie on Shoulders of Star Attacker
There's no questioning that Abby Wambach is the vocal leader of the U.S. women's national soccer team, taking black eyes and scoring goals on more than one occasion to get her team to the London gold medal game.
Wambach was unable to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after breaking her leg in a game against Brazil just before the tournament. Three years later at the 2011 World Cup, Wambach and her teammates fell to Japan in the final game on penalty kicks.
It's been four years full of should haves and could haves for the 32-year-old soccer star and she needs to channel that frustration and passion into one last stellar performance on the Olympic stage.
Wambach has scored in every game for Team USA so far at these Summer Games, and almost scored a potential game-winning goal against Canada in the 119th minute of the contest.
Teammates Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and of course goalkeeper Hope Solo have all played vital roles in this teams success in London, but none have been as crucial and consistent as Wambach.
This bout against Japan is one that they have all been looking forward to for a full year however, as Wambach told NBC Sports television just after the win over Canada:
Abby Wambach's 104th minute goal against Japan in the 2011 World Cup final.
This is what we've been working for since we lost to Japan at the World Cup final.
None of these women need motivation, considering Japan is the one team that they have been unable to beat as of late. The last two times these teams have met, Japan has defeated and drew against the Americans.
In order for the U.S. to capture its third straight Olympic gold medal and first victory over Japan in some time, Wambach's presence needs to be felt on the pitch.
Her and teammate Alex Morgan have been doing their best Batman and Robin impression during this tournament, becoming the most dynamic duo of attackers in these Summer Games.
In all of the United States' matches leading up to this gold medal game, it would be hard to find one where Wambach or Morgan didn't score or just miss scoring after a pass from the other.
These two have built a tremendous chemistry leading up to and throughout these Olympics. If that production can continue early and often against the Japanese, then both ladies will have gold around their necks by the end of this tournament.
Wambach needs to look for Morgan up front but also do what she does best and put her head to the soccer ball when the United States have set piece opportunities.
She's the best in her sport at scoring goals with her head. Japan knows that quite well considering it was her header that gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead in the 104th minute of the World Cup final.
Wambach needs to be her imposing self on offense in order for her team to win this contest and all signs point to just that happening in the Olympics gold medal game.
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