Wambach enters Olympic soccer history, boots U.S. to win | News
MANCHESTER, England - Abby Wambach planted her left foot in the wet turf at the Old Trafford, and with her right foot carved out a swath of soccer history.
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With the lone goal in a 1-0 U.S. victory over North Korea at the London Olympics, Wambach became the first woman to score in international play at the historic venue, home of the English Premier League club Manchester United. The goal, the seventh in her career at the Summer Games, extends her lead atop the U.S. all-time list for career goals at the Olympics.
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The striker, 32, helped the Americans sweep the group stage for the first time and sends them off to St. James' Park in Newcastle, England, vs. a quarterfinal opponent yet to be determined.
"It was awesome," Wambach said. "So many U.S. fans came for this game specifically. It's a dream come true for a lot of us. It's unbelievable to have gotten a goal."
Coming in the 25th minute, Wambach's goal was facilitated by fellow striker Alex Morgan, who corralled a high thru ball, and flicked it past two North Korean defenders to Wambach's waiting foot.
Following the goal, Wambach and the team unleashed a planned celebration in which nine players joined hands and made a worm-like motion, while defender Christie Rampone and Hope Solo did 'the worm' on the ground near the American goal.
"Hope doesn't get involved in the celebrations very often so we wanted to get her involved and she said the worm is one of the things that she can contribute," said Wambach. "Thankfully we got the goal so we could display it."
Added Solo, fresh off controversial comments about former U.S. soccer player Brandi Chastain, "We're going to remember these moments. I did the worm at Old Trafford. Are you kidding me?"
Wambach's triumph stood in contrast to the team's overall struggle to put the ball in the net vs. an inferior North Korean team. The Americans outshot North Korea 17-4 and held possession for better than 60% of the game, rallying with several late chances in a failed effort to extend the lead.
Solo and Wambach said the team was saving its legs for the elimination stage, knowing they needed only a tie to advance to take the group.
"It wasn't the best game in terms of being organized defensively and covering our angles," said Solo. "But we got a win. We swept our group. You're going to have one of those games. We all knew the energy was a little bit low. But we're happy. We made it out.
"All we needed was a tie and I think we kind of knew that so the energy was a little low but we know how to pick it up and how to rise to the occasion. It's all about peaking at the right time."
After three group stage games the Americans are undefeated, having beaten France, 4-2, Colombia, 3-0, and now North Korea, 1-0. If they win in Newcastle, they would return to Old Trafford, the 75,811 capacity stadium which had players in awe during a Monday tour of the grounds.
The announced attendance of 29,522 dwarfed crowd sizes in Glasgow, Scotland, where the U.S. played its first two games in group play. The last time women played a game at Old Trafford was the 1989 F.A. Cup final, which drew about 900 fans.