On Thursday night, Abby Wambach tied and then surpassed former U.S. national team strike partner Mia Hamm to become the all-time leading scorer in international soccer — man or woman. Wambach entered the friendly against Korea Republic needing two goals to tie Hamm’s record of 158 goals and scored four — all in the first half.
TeamUSA.org takes a side-by-side look at the two star strikers’ careers.
|Hometown||Selma, Ala.||Rochester, N.Y.|
|College||University of North Carolina (1989–93)||University of Florida (1998–01)|
|National Team Debut||Aug. 3, 1987, in a 2–0 win against China in Tianjin. At age 15 years, 140 days, Hamm became the youngest national team debutant. Also debuting in this same game were future national team stalwarts Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett.||Sept. 9, 2001, in a 4–1 win against Germany in Chicago. Wambach was 21 years old.|
|July 25, 1990, in a 4–0 win against Norway in Winnipeg, Canada. Hamm scored the final goal.||April 27, 2002, in a 3–0 win against Finland in San Jose. Wambach scored the opening goal in the seventh minute.|
|158th goal||Nov. 3, 2004, in a 1–1 tie against Denmark in East Rutherford, N.J. Hamm scored the game-tying goal in the 91st minute in front of 18,885 fans at Giants Stadium. The game was part of Team USA’s post-Olympic “Fan Celebration Tour.” Hamm, then 32, retired, along with Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, at the conclusion of the tour two games later.||June 20, 2013, in a 5–0 win over Korea Republic in Harrison, N.J. Wambach, 33, came into the game needing two goals to tie Hamm’s record. Instead she scored four goals — in the first half. Wambach scored her 159th goal with, what else, her head. Sixty-nine of Wambach’s 160 goals have come off her head. A crowd of 18,961 was in attendance at Red Bull Arena for the game.|
|Matches to 158||273 (of 275)||207|
|Iconic Moment||In the summer of 1999, Hamm was the face of the U.S. national team that captivated the country en route to a FIFA Women’s World Cup victory on home soil. In front of sold out crowds at massive football stadiums, Hamm scored two goals in six games as well as the fourth penalty kick in the shootout victory over China in the final.||With the U.S. national team trailing Brazil 2–1 in 122nd minute of the quarterfinals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup, Wambach received a long cross from Megan Rapinoe and headed it into the goal. At the time, it was the latest goal scored in FIFA competition. When extra time ended moments later, Wambach scored in the penalty shootout to help the U.S. move on. The win came 12 years to the day that Hamm’s U.S. team beat China in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final. Wambach also scored in the semifinals and finals as Team USA went on to a runner-up finish.|
|Major International Trophies||Women’s World Cup (1991, 1999); Olympic Games (1996, 2004)||Women’s World Cup (none); Olympic Games (2004, 2012)*
* Team USA won Olympic gold in 2008 in Beijing, but Wambach missed the tournament after suffering a broken tibia and fibula in her leg just weeks before the Games.
|U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Awards (since 1985)||5 (1994–98)||5 (2003–04, 2007, 2010–11)|
|FIFA World Player of the Year Awards (since 2001)||2001, 2002||2012|
|Best Season||1998 – 20 goals and 20 assists in 21 games, including her 100th career goal. During a three-year stretch from 1997 to 1999, Hamm scored 51 goals in 63 games. FIFA did not hand out a women’s player of the year award until 2001.||2004 – 31 goals and 13 assists in 30 matches, including the gold-medal-winning goal in overtime at the Olympic Games. She finished fourth in voting for the FIFA women’s player of year award.|
|Soccer Evolution||Hamm’s journey with the U.S. national team coincided with the growth of women’s soccer on the international level. She was just 19, the youngest on the U.S. team, when it won the debut Women’s World Cup in 1991 in China. Five years later, in 1996, she also helped Team USA win gold at the debut Olympic women’s soccer tournament. The U.S. women’s national team was only 2 years old when Hamm debuted; during her career she went on to play in front of massive crowds, such as the 76,489 in Athens, Ga. at the 1996 Olympic gold-medal game and 90,185 at the 1999 World Cup final in the Rose Bowl.||Thanks in part to Hamm and her “Fab Five” generation, women’s soccer was firmly established on the international level by the time Wambach debuted. In Wambach’s career, women’s soccer has battled to establish itself on the professional level, at least in the United States. The Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) shut down after two seasons in 2003 and Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) lasted from 2009 to 2011. Now Wambach — and women’s soccer fans — are hoping the third time is the charm. The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) debuted in 2013, and Wambach is a star forward for her hometown Western New York Flash.|
|Working Together||When the Washington Freedom selected Wambach second in the 2002 WUSA draft, it paired the two greatest scorers in women’s soccer. A veteran Hamm mentored a young Wambach during their two years together in Washington, which culminated in the 2003 WUSA title. They also lined up together on the U.S. national team from 2001 to 2004.||Hamm and “Fab Five” played their last major tournament together at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The 24-year-old Wambach made sure they went out on top. In a tight gold-medal game against an up-and-coming Brazil squad, Wambach headed in the game-winning goal in the 112th minute.|
|Who’s next?||When Hamm retired in 2004, her record was already looking breakable. The 24-year-old Wambach ended the 2005 season with 45 goals in 55 games. Hamm, meanwhile, had just 16 goals after her first 55 games.||The next prolific scorer in women’s soccer is already lining up next to Wambach. Alex Morgan, a 24-year-old forward, has 44 goals in 68 games for Team USA. If she keeps up her scoring rate, Morgan could eventually pass both Hamm and Wambach.|