At 31 years of age, Abby Wambach might never have another opportunity to play in a World Cup final again. But rather than dwelling on the heartbreak of losing to Japan on penalties, the gritty U.S. women’s team forward is looking forward to the Olympics in London next year.
"This has been an emotional roller coaster,” Wambach said. “We'll go back, play on our respective teams in our league (Women's Professional Soccer). And the Olympics are around the corner. We'll move on.”
While visibly shaken at times in front of cameras, the WPS player refused to tear up, staying composed throughout Japan’s trophy celebration. As disappointed as she might have been, Wambach is genuinely happy for the Blue Samurai, whose world-title win will surely provide a morale boost for a nation that still has a lengthy recovery ahead following a massive earthquake four months ago.
“For Japan, it´s great,” said Wambach, who scored the go-ahead goal in extra time before Homare Sawa knocked in the equalizer moments later. “They have surprised. We feel for them and hope it will be a good sign for their country."
Wambach, who won the Silver Ball as the tournament’s second-best player and the bronze boot for finishing third in scoring, is already prepared to move on and focus on winning her second Olympic gold medal in 2010 should the team qualify for the tournament.
“I am very proud of our team, we've played very good,” said Wambach. “It was bad to lose in the penalty shootout, but [it’s] okay. This is the World Cup, this is soccer - anything can happen. Now we want to spend some time together and think about the tournament.”
Wambach’s teammate Carli Lloyd agrees that the team will be a strong contender for both the Olympics and the next World Cup in 2015.
"We're disappointed, but if there is a team who deserves to win the World Cup than it is Japan,” said Lloyd. “Now we want to play a good Olympic tournament and in four years we want to win the World Cup.”