Abby Wambach will play her 255th and final USWNT game tonight against China. Wambach and her 184 goals will no doubt go down in history as one of the greatest United States soccer players of all time (regardless of gender).
When I thought about who would take over as “replacing” Abby Wambach as the face of the USWNT roster, “replacing” just seems wrong. Nobody can replace what Abby Wambach has done for the USWNT the same way as Abby Wambach didn’t replace what Mia Hamm did for the USWNT and the same way as Mia Hamm didn’t replace what Michelle Akers did for the USWNT. This is more about who will carry on that legacy of being an icon for the USWNT.
Alex Morgan would be a logical successor after Wambach’s career is over. They both play a similar position, are arguably the most marketable stars of the team and both are not afraid of utilizing their platform for voicing causes that they believe, like artificial turf and equality within soccer. It’s crazy to think but at only 26, Morgan is 9th in USMNT history (56 goals) in goals scored and will be 2nd among active players.
And speaking of scoring goals, Carli Lloyd will be 1st among active players in goals scored and 6th in USWNT history (79 goals). And how could we forget this past summer when Lloyd did the unthinkable and provide maybe the greatest individual performance of any soccer player wearing a USA kit.
What Lloyd has going against her is that she is 33 and while she has never been better, she has a very short window to be the new face of the USWNT.
Megan Rapinoe is not a a traditional goalscorer like Wambach, but she is a vital part of the team. Rapinoe usually gathers the assists for the team. A fan favorite, Rapinoe’s calm and easy going demeanor along with her natural talent is a great combination for the team.
While Christen Press seems like a new face to the national team, she has actually been a big part of the team since 2013. While the spotlight was on other players until just recently, Press amassed 29 goals and averages a little over a goal every other game. Now that Press has had more playing time and an opportunity to win on the big stage, Press could be a legend for years to come.
Crystal Dunn missed out on the fun in Canada this summer but that wasn’t because of a lack of talent. Dunn had been on and off the USWNT since 2013 and even though she missed out on the World Cup, she used that as motivation and won the NWSL MVP award this year. She was rewarded with a spot on the USWNT “Victory Tour” and was able to score her first four goals for the team. If she keeps this up, she will have a more permanent spot on the team for years to come and maybe be one of the best when it’s all said and done.
We talked about five possible candidates to become the new face of the USWNT but there really could be multiple people fitting that bill. From established USWNT players like Tobin Heath, Heather O’Reilly, Becky Sauerbrunn and Sydney Leroux to relative newcomers like Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian, Julie Johnston and Lindsey Horan, maybe we are past the point where there is one superstar legend like Abby Wambach who is the face of the USWNT and we have a team full of icons and legends taking over.
If Abby Wambach’s Gatorade commercial is any indication, her legacy may be “forgotten” sooner rather than later as so many of these players have now been household names and showed that they themselves can be worthy of replacing Abby Wambach as a new face for the USWNT.