Abby Wambach to skip NWSL season

Some are questioning why Abby Wambach should be allowed to skip the NWSL season and still play for the U.S. national team in the World Cup. Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

ELMA, N.Y. -- Abby Wambach is taking the season off from playing in the National Women's Soccer League to focus solely on representing the United States in the World Cup this summer.

Wambach made the announcement in a release issued Wednesday by her NWSL team, the Western New York Flash.

"At this stage of my career, I know what I need to prepare mentally and physically for this summer," the 2012 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year said. "My sole focus is to help bring a World Cup back to the U.S."

Wambach, who made her international debut in 2001, will turn 35 on June 2, six days before the U.S. opens the World Cup against Australia at Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is coming off an injury-troubled year, during which she broke her orbital bone, suffered a concussion and was also sidelined by a sprained knee.

The Flash opened training camp this month in preparation to start their season at Seattle on April 12. Wambach spent the past two years with the Flash, who are based outside of Buffalo, but play their home games in her hometown of Rochester.

Wambach is a six-time U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year and a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner. She holds the women's international career scoring record with 178 goals.

The only thing missing from her résumé is a World Cup title. The U.S. has not won the tournament since claiming its second championship in 1999. The Americans came close at Germany in 2011 before losing the title game to Japan.

"While it's difficult to lose a player like Abby, we are grateful for her contributions over the past two years," Flash president Alex Sahlen said. "We want to wish Abby and the rest of the U.S. Women's National Team the best of luck in the upcoming World Cup."

Wambach has 17 goals and seven assists in 29 career games with the Flash.