Abby Wambach will retire from soccer at the end of the year.
U.S. Soccer made the announcement on Tuesday, a mere few hours after Wambach and the U.S. women visited the White House to celebrate their 2015 Women’s World Cup title.
“After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I’ve decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end,” Wambach said. “While we still have more work to do for women’s soccer, after bringing the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our sport. It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings.”
The all-time leading goal-scorer in the history of internationl soccer with 184 goals, Wambach is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and most recently a World Cup champion.
Wambach, 35, will be with the U.S. women for all four of the team’s final World Cup victory tour matches. Her final game will be Dec. 16 in the Superdome in New Orleans, La.
Part of the Olympic gold-medal winning teams in 2004 and 2012, Wambach missed the 2008 Olympics after breaking her leg in the final friendly match before the team left for China. She has scored nine goals in 10 career Olympics.
In 2011, Wambach scored one of the most famous goals in American soccer history, heading in a cross from Megan Rapinoe in the 122nd minute to equalize against Brazil in the quarterfinals. The U.S. went on to win in penalty kicks, avoiding its earliest-ever exit at a World Cup and marching to the final, where Japan would win on penalty kicks despite what looked like a game-winning goal from Wambach in extra time. At the time, the goal was the latest ever scored in a FIFA competition. One year later, teammate Alex Morgan scored the game-winner in the 123rd minute of the Olympic semifinal against Canada.
Wambach was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2012, and she finished third in 2011 and 2014. The United States’ record when Wambach scores in a game is 116-2-8. Wambach’s 14 Women’s World Cup goals are the second-most goals in history, trailing only to Brazil’s Marta.
At the club level, Wambach came onto the scene with the Washington Freedom. U.S. Soccer legend Mia Hamm took Wambach under her wings on the club and country level, and the two won the WUSA Founders Cup title in 2003 on Wambach’s golden goal. The league folded after the season. Wambach returned to the nation’s capital to play for the Washington Freedom in WPS in 2009 and 2010, before following the franchise on its controversial path to Boca Raton, Fla., in its one-year existence as magicJack. The late Dan Borislow owned that team and got into a legal battle with WPS, eventually helping end the league before the start of its fourth season.
A Pittsford, N.Y., native, Wambach returned home to Rochester, N.Y. to play for the Western New York Flash at the start of the National Women’s Soccer League in 2013. She publicly expressed her desire to be in Portland — where she and now wife Sarah Huffman had just bought a house — but admitted that it was best for the league that she help grow the Flash franchise.
In two seasons with the Flash, Wambach tallied 17 goals and 12 assists in 29 matches. Her 11 goals in 2013 were tied for second-most in the league and helped the Flash finish atop the regular-season standings and runners-up to Portland after losing the final at home.
After announcing she would not play the 2015 NWSL season, Wambach’s rights were traded to Seattle Reign FC, but she stuck to her decision and never reported.
This World Cup was a very different one for Wambach, who played in all seven matches at the World Cup but started only three games, scoring one goal in 297 minutes.
According to U.S. Soccer, Wambach scored just over 500 goals combined in her high school, college, professional club, youth national team and senior international career.
Wambach debuted for the U.S. national team on Sept. 9, 2001, scoring her first senior international goal on April 27, 2002. On June 20, 2013, she scored four goals in the first half against South Korea to break Hamm’s all-time international scoring record.