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Women’s World Cup: Abby Wambach says she just wants to win her last match

U.S. soccer veteran Abby Wambach says this World Cup will be her last. (Associated Press)
U.S. soccer veteran Abby Wambach says this World Cup will be her last. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

With the title match looming, Abby Wambach isn’t mincing words.

“All I care about is winning this World Cup,” she said.

The star U.S. forward is playing in her fourth Women’s World Cup, and she says it will be her last. A victory Sunday in the final against Japan in Vancouver, B.C., would be the perfect ending to her World Cup career.

It would also solidify a legacy. Wambach, who has been on the national team for 15 years, has scored 183 goals, more than any other player, male or female, in the world. Of those, 77 have come on headers.

She was the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, the game’s highest honor. And she has two Olympic gold medals.

What she doesn’t have is a World Cup title.

“For this being her last one, I will do whatever it takes to get the job done,” vowed midfielder Carli Lloyd, who leads the Americans with three goals.

The 35-year old Wambach has seen her role change at this World Cup. She isn’t starting every match, at times coming in off the bench. She has just one goal so far in the monthlong event, the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Nigeria in the group stage.

The United States, ranked No. 2 in the world, finished atop its group in Canada before victories over Colombia and China set up a thrilling 2-0 semifinal victory over top-ranked Germany on Tuesday night.

The final Sunday against Japan at Vancouver’s BC Place is a rematch of the 2011 championship match in Germany, when the United States fell on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.

So far it’s been an eventful tournament for Wambach. She’s started three matches and come off the bench for three. She hadn’t played as a substitute in a World Cup match since her first tournament appearance in 2003.

Wambach says whether she starts Sunday or not is inconsequential.

“As a competitor, and as someone who has an ego, of course I want to start, of course I want to help my team,” she said. “I just have this belief system, and I’ve talked about it my whole career, that it takes a whole team. It’s not about one person. It will never be about one person in a team sport.”

England to face Germany today for third place

Though Mark Sampson already knew what answer he’d get, England’s coach felt obligated to ask defender Laura Bassett whether she was emotionally ready for one more game at the Women’s World Cup.

“She looked back in my eye, and said, ‘I’m in for the team,’ ”Sampson recalled Friday. “It was an easy answer, wasn’t it?”

Two days after Bassett left the field sobbing when her stoppage-time own goal gave Japan a 2-1 semifinal win, No. 6 England meets top-ranked Germany for third place today in Edmonton, Alberta.

Sampson said Bassett will assuredly start at center back after encouragement from her entire team and support from fans back home.

“She’s in a good place now,” Sampson said. “I’m 100 percent certain it’s right for the team that Laura plays tomorrow. And I’m very confident Laura and the team will produce another big performance.”

The Germans have their own motivations to bounce back following a 2-0 loss to the United States on Tuesday. With a chance to put Germany ahead, Celia Sasic sent a 59th-minute penalty kick wide. The Americans scored 10 minutes later on a penalty kick of their own.

“Of course, this particular experience was bitter. But she was able to digest it well. And she’s very strong,” Germany coach Silvia Neid said through a translator. “For both teams it’s important to digest these defeats and to have the goal to have a great match.”

Germany is 18-0-2 against the Lionesses, with both draws in 2007. That includes a scoreless game in the preliminary round of the 2007 World Cup in China, which the Germans went on to win.

Vice President Biden to attend Cup final

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will cheer on the United States in the final.

The Bidens will lead a delegation including U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, and former U.S. players Cobi Jones and Mia Hamm.

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