Abby Wambach did not have much say on the field over the United States‘ victory on Sunday, but she was undoubtedly the team’s emotional leader throughout the entire 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Wambach saw the final World Cup action of her career, playing in her 25th career match as a substitute at 79′ on Sunday with the Americans already leading the Japanese 5-2 in the event. The U.S. held on for the victory, winning its first World Cup since 1999 (third ever, the most of any nation) and avenging a penalty kick loss to Japan four years ago.
For Wambach, who only scored one goal in this year’s World Cup, the victory was just as sweet as if she had started every match during the month-long event. Instead, she watched on as Carli Lloyd – the heir apparent team captain – registered a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of competition, scoring at 3′, 5′ and again at 16′ from midfield. Between Lloyd’s three goals was one by Lauren Holliday at 14′, and Tobin Health responded to two Japanese goals with an insurance strike at 54′ for the Americans.
Lloyd gave her captain armband to Wambach when she entered out of respect.