Behind The Scenes

Wambach confident in Team USA


Before the real action begins, Abby Wambach prepares for the lights and cameras in Bristol.

With less than six weeks until its FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 debut, Abby Wambach is confident about the team’s depth — even though injuries can cause some nervousness.

The Americans have to hone their competitive edge but be careful in a pair of “friendlies” until then.

In Cary, N.C. on Wednesday, May 18, they meet Japan at 7 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN3.com. On June 5 at 2 p.m. in Harrison, N.J., Mexico is the foe.

Wambach is ready for Team USA’s first match against North Korea on June 28: “Our first game is probably going to be the toughest of our group. We don’t know much about them. So that makes it difficult to prepare. We want to prepare for what we can control.”

For Wambach, a 118 career-goal scoring forward, it’s either: “Gold or failure. I take it personally. I want to be part of the World Cup history for this team.”

Having just returned from a three-week training camp in Florida, Wambach is excited about the roster of the No. 1-ranked team. I caught up with her in ESPN’s green room minutes before her recent appearance on SportsCenter.

“The team we’re most concerned about right now, is ourselves,” she said and called the team’s roster, “well-rounded.”

“Playing in preparation of any World Championship, there’s a factor and that is that players can get injured. I got injured before 2008 and that’s why the depth of teams is so important. That’s why our team is very strong. We have strong players the length of the whole bench,” she said.

With several players returning from injury, Wambach said in a later interview with espnW’s Julie Foudy that timing is very important.

Wambach agreed that players’ performance will peak at the right time this year. She’s excited about the U.S. team’s defensive lineup as well as the midfield, but also admits that “we haven’t played our best soccer.”

She described the challenges of juggling a Women’s Professional Soccer season with National Team preps over the past months.

“It’s about rhythm and it’s about clicking, I think it’s just about working through some rough spots.”

Also, injured during a recent WPS game was team captain Christie Rampone, who was scheduled to join Wambach for the ESPN visit to announce the roster on May 9. Heather O’Reilly was a last-minute replacement for the Bristol visit.

Rampone is recovering from a groin injury and will be ready to play in time FIFA Women’s World Cup.

According to Wambach, the stress and worry about being injured close to an important game wears on the players’ minds.

Going into her third World Cup, it could be Abby’s last: ”I want to be a part of the history of this soccer team — and not just in a Olympic way. Holding that trophy I think will show the world that women’s soccer is here to stay,” Wambach told Foudy.

All 32 FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 matches will air live and in high definition on ESPN, ESPN2 as well as ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV between June 26 and July 17.

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