Abby Wambach: Star Won Player of the Year on Reputation More Than Merit

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2013

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 07: Abby Wambach of United States receives her FIFA womens player of the year trophy  during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2013 at Congress House on January 07, 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

Abby Wambach deserves to have a FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award on her spectacular resume, but she was not the best player in women's soccer this year. 

FIFA tweeted out news of the award.  

The FIFA Women’s World Player of Year 2012 is Abby Wambach #Ballondor

— (@FIFAcom) January 7, 2013

Wambach became the first American to win this award since Mia Hamm did so in 2002.  

I don't mean to bash Wambach's year. The 32-year-old was spectacular. She scored five goals in the U.S.' gold-medal run at the Olympics this past summer, and that included clutch plays like her late penalty kick against Canada in the semifinals.

Wambach was the face and leader of the women's team. However, she was not its best player.

On the pitch, Alex Morgan has the stats that would normally have gotten her this award. She led the UWNT with 28 goals and 21 assists. The goal total is similar to Wambach, who had 27, but Wambach was far behind in assists.

Morgan really came into her own this season in international play, and at 23, she has a bright future and seems to be destined to win this award at least once, and that is likely a big reason why she did not win it this year. 

Morgan finished third in the voting, as she also trailed five-time award winner Marta. My guess is she lost a lot of votes among the group who felt an American woman was the rightful winner, but also knew that Wambach deserved to have one of these awards under her belt. 

After all, Wambach, with 152, is just six goals shy of Mia Hamm's international goal record, and it is unlikely she has any years left as good as this one. 

I am not at all disappointed that Wambach got this award, but make no mistake about it—she isn't even the best player on her own team.