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Wambach is soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer
They laughed, nudged each other and smiled as one great goal after another by Wambach was shown.
Wambach scored four times in the first half to break Hamm’s record for international career goals with room to spare in a 5-0 victory. The second-best game of her career gave the 33-year-old Wambach 160 goals in 207 games, two more than Hamm had in a storied 275-game career that ended in 2004.
“I don’t think about how I sit in history, in the books,” Wambach said. “What my legacy is, that is something I do care about, and something that has eluded me is a World Cup championship. I think every great athlete in these moments, you do have to separate yourself and really celebrate. I am going to celebrate tonight with my friends and family, but at the end of the day, tomorrow when the sun comes up, I still have to keep working on my game to get better.
“I think that is what the best athletes do. They don’t dwell on their championships or records. As soon as they win one, all you want to do is find something new and move toward that.”
The chase for Hamm’s record of 158 was over with three goals in the opening 29 minutes. She added another in injury time to give her a nice round number.
The historic 159th came on a line-drive header that ripped into the twine in the back of the net off a corner kick by Megan Rapinoe.
“I’m just so proud of her,” Hamm said. “Just watching those four goals, that’s what she is all about. She fights for the ball, she’s courageous and she never gives up. Her strength and perseverance is what makes her so great and it’s what defenders and opposing teams fear.
“From being her teammate early in her career, I know all she ever wanted to do was win, and she continues to do that. I’m just glad I got to share 158 with her. It was short, but it was fun.”
After the record-setting goal, Wambach turned and ran a couple of steps in the direction of the U.S. bench, then stopped as Rapinoe jumped into her arms. The Rochester, N.Y., native was then mobbed by teammates on the field and those who streamed off the bench as the crowd of 18,961 at Red Bull Arena cheered wildly.
After the hugs, Wambach turned to the stands and blew a kiss toward her parents, Judy and Peter.
By Brahma Chellaney
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