Wambach Out With Broken Leg

Abby Wambach, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime of the gold medal match in the 2004 Olympics, will miss this year's Games after being hurt in Wednesday's friendly.
Abby Wambach, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime of the gold medal match in the 2004 Olympics, will miss this year's Games after being hurt in Wednesday's friendly. (By Sean M. Haffey -- San Diego Union-tribune)
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 18, 2008

U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach broke two bones in her left leg Wednesday night in the final tuneup before the Olympics, a major setback for a team that lost two other regulars to serious injuries this summer.

Wambach, 28, suffered fractures in the tibia and fibula in a collision during the first half of a 1-0 victory over Brazil in San Diego. She underwent surgery yesterday and will be sidelined about three months.

Wambach, who played alongside Mia Hamm for two seasons with the Washington Freedom of the defunct WUSA, leads the national team in scoring this year with 13 goals and 10 assists. Her 99 career goals in just 127 appearances are fifth in U.S. history and her four goals at the 2004 Olympics in Greece included the game-winner in overtime of the gold medal match against the Brazilians.

"Obviously, it's devastating, but above everything else, I'm only one player, and you can never win a championship with just one player," Wambach said in a statement issued by the U.S. Soccer Federation. "I have the utmost confidence in this team bringing home the gold."

The Americans -- 21-0-1 this year and ranked No. 1 in the world -- are also without Olympic veterans Leslie Osborne and defender Cat Whitehill, who both tore knee ligaments in the past two months, and 21-year veteran Kristine Lilly, who is due to give birth to her first child this week.

Eager for redemption on the international stage after a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the World Cup semifinals in China last fall, the Americans will face scoring challenges without the imposing Wambach. Natasha Kai, who has emerged as a scorer this year, becomes the top frontline threat. Wambach's spot on the 18-player Olympic roster was filled by UCLA rising junior Lauren Cheney, 20, who has scored three goals in 12 national team appearances.

Defending world champion Germany is the gold medal favorite, with Brazil, Norway, Sweden, North Korea and China as the other medal contenders.

"It's really going to take everyone coming together," Wambach said.

Meanwhile, Rockville's Freddy Adu and former Maryland Terrapins Robbie Rogers, Chris Seitz and Maurice Edu were named to the U.S. men's Olympic squad.

The 18-man roster is evenly divided between players from MLS and foreign leagues. Adu, 19, plays for Benfica in Portugal after three seasons with D.C. United and one with Real Salt Lake.

Unlike the women's soccer competition, the Olympic men's event is restricted to players under age 23, with three exceptions. U.S. Coach Peter Nowak's "overage" picks were Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who turns 24 in September and has made eight appearances for the national team; New England defender Michael Parkhurst, 24, who has played only three times for the national squad; and Brian McBride, 36, a three-time World Cup forward who left English club Fulham this summer to sign with MLS.

Nowak's overage options were somewhat limited because the national team has a 2010 World Cup qualifier Aug. 20 at Guatemala. Other prominent Olympic selections included forward Jozy Altidore (Villarreal, Spain) and midfielder Michael Bradley (Heerenveen, Netherlands).

"We wanted to make sure we have two competitive teams," said Nowak, whose squad will face Japan, the Netherlands and Nigeria in group play in China.

CONCACAF, which encompasses North and Central America and the Caribbean, is the only region with a full slate of World Cup qualifiers during the Olympics.

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