Talking shop with Abby Wambach

October, 20, 2010

U.S. women's national team star Abby Wambach recently visited Bristol, Conn., to shoot a "This is SportsCenter" commercial. caught up with Wambach after the shoot to talk about her acting, women's World Cup qualifying, Women's Professional Soccer and more. First, when did you find out that you hit the fan in the stands in Philadelphia during pregame warm-ups and made him lose his hot dog?

Abby Wambach: I knew I hit somebody, and it happens sometimes during warm-ups. People aren't paying attention. It was a cross. I obviously didn't hit it properly, missed the frame. I knew I hit somebody, but I didn't know what had happened until it came up on "Not Top 10." The irony of the whole thing is that hot dogs are one of my favorite foods and my dad was more upset for the guy because he ate a hot dog himself. He goes, "They were really good and they were nine dollars." So I feel even worse for the guy because the hot dog just popped off. Hilarious, though. We know you can't share too many details about your commercial, but what can we expect from it? And what's your acting like?

Wambach: I think from this I'm going to be getting calls from Hollywood, for sure. No, it's just silly and something I think people will get a very big kick out of. John Anderson did great. … It's going to be fun. I think people will like it. How are you feeling about the women's national team heading into World Cup qualifying in Cancun, Mexico (which begins Oct. 28)?

Wambach: Really excited. … When the season with WPS ended and we had those two games against China, I guarantee you all those players on the national team didn't feel great about the way those games necessarily turned out -- results aside, but just the way that we played. People really were tired. [We] hadn't gotten to play with each other and the rhythm of that whole camp was a little weird, because whenever you lost from your [WPS] season is when you kind of came in. So it was kind of a weird camp. I'm really excited to go down to Cancun and to get a bunch of games under our belt with the national team and hopefully put us in a good position to qualify for the World Cup next year. The women's national team recently tied China 1-1, with Alex Morgan getting the game-tying goal late. How much pressure do you feel in a game like that to win or tie, even though it's a friendly?

Wambach: I wouldn't say there's pressure. I would just say anger. None of us are used to losing, period. Whether it's with the league or not. I can tell you that all the players, from the league's perspective, you go through these emotions that are up and down. And they're drastic swings. One weekend you are as happy as ever, and the next week you're as upset and depressed as ever, because you just never know what's really going to happen during those games. When you step on the field with the national team, there's a sense that, OK, we're going to win. That's just what we do. That's who we are. And when we don't perform to that ability and other teams get goals on us and we're coming from behind, it's an emotion and a position that none of us are really comfortable with. But, the good news about that game is that we pulled it out. We actually could've won the game in my opinion. And, you know, it's good to get yourself in positions like that -- that you're uncomfortable and not really sure of -- so that if it were to happen in bigger games at a World Cup or World Cup qualifying game, we'd know what to do and how to emotionally deal with it. How do you feel Year 2 of WPS went for you and your team, the Washington Freedom?

Wambach: I think for me, personally, you can look at the numbers and they're pretty similar, but I felt a lot better about the way I performed consistently this year. Last year, I was still kind of coming back from my [broken] leg. I went through all of those emotions. This year, I was a little bit more even keeled. … I'm really proud of our team for qualifying for the playoffs. We were the only team to do it two years in a row. The league is not easy. How long does a loss like the playoff loss to Philadelphia, with Amy Rodriguez scoring seconds before penalty kicks, sting for?

Wambach: It's hard because I think that they outplayed us for the entire game. It's hard because you're hanging on for so long and it's just a matter of time. I thought it was just a matter of time that they were going to score. I thought that the better team won that day. They had our number on their home field. We'll have to just go back to the drawing board for next year. What do you think of Western New York (the Rochester/Buffalo expansion franchise) coming into the league?

Wambach: It's great for this league to get teams to add on. Obviously, with St. Louis and L.A. having folded, getting a couple expansion teams is the right kind of evolution that we want for the league. It's obviously a little bit more exciting for me. My entire family lives in Western New York. I think for the soccer community up there, it's great for them because they're such committed soccer fans. Every time that we've gone back to Rochester for games, my family takes up half the stadium and the rest of Rochester fills up the rest of the stadium. It's always really fun to go home and play in front of my family. What's the plan for after World Cup qualifying as you get ready for a busy 2011?

Wambach: Take a bunch of weeks off. Our 2011 is very busy. We've got a [women's national team] camp in December, then a camp in January in China, the Four Nations [tournament], and then we have Algarve at the end of February, beginning of March. Of course, the WPS season starts shortly after that. We're going to be [playing a lot for] the national team. We're going to have a European tour. We've got a bunch of stuff on the schedule. So, my off time after qualifying is going to be off. I'm going to not do much. The next year is important as well with the Olympics right around the corner.


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