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PLAYER OF THE YEAR

USA forward Abby Wambach won the female FIFA World Player of the Year award recently at FIFA’s big annual awards ceremony at its Zurich headquarters in Switzerland. The award capped off a stellar year for the forward who has dominated women’s soccer the past five years. Despite her achievements the past two years in particular, she had been overshadowed by Brazilian Marta, who won the award consecutively from 2006- 2010; last year, after leading the U. S. to the World Cup final, she missed out on the award because captain Homare Sawa led eventual world champion Japan on a miracle run in the tournament, despite Wambach consistency throughout the previous year.

This time around, the forward from Rochester, New York culminated another stellar year-round performance by leading her team to its second Olympic gold, and in the process, avenging the USA’s loss to Japan in the 2011 World Cup final. Wambach led the Olympic tournament with five goals as the U. S. went undefeated and untied; in fact, the U. S. finished 2012 with the best record among women’s national teams, 28-1-3, as Wambach scored 27 goals.

The tall, solidly built forward carried the U.S. many times, scoring the winning goals on numerous occasions. Although teammate Alex Morgan scored one more goal (28) than Wambach last year, Morgan was the first to admit that it was “Wambach’s selfless off-the-ball work, aerial battling and off-field mentorship…” that aided her success. It was Wambach who twice scored to pull the U.S. even in that memorable 2011 World Cup final that went into double overtime.

Now 32, and after scoring 152 international goals, second only to Mia Hamm (158), Wambach’s amazing career is obviously nearing its end; she may survive the very competitive U.S. team and could be around for the 2015 World Cup in Canada, but that is no guarantee. She has not won a World Cup, so maybe a World Cup ring could be the impetus to keep on kicking until 34, at least for another two or three more years.

New women’s league

The National Women’s Soccer League, set to kick off its inaugural season this spring, recently began the process of allotting some of the 55 national team players from the U. S., Mexico and Canada among its eight teams. Abby Wambach was assigned to the Western New York Flash, which is the only New York franchise; her teammate Alex Morgan went to the Portland Thorns, which also landed midfielder Tobin Heath, defender Rachel Buehler and Canadian striker Christine Sinclair, who played college soccer in the area.

Among some others who were assigned teams in the ongoing staffing of the franchises are U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who lives in the city and was assigned to the Seattle Reign, along with Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez. Christie Rampone and Kelly O’Hara went to the New Jersey Sky Blue FC. Ali Krieger and Lori Lindsey will play for the Washington Spirit. Other national team players will be assigned; a college draft along with former professional players from previous leagues and foreign players will also be signed to complete new venture.

Former Canadian national player and look forward to taking on the role of interim head coach for a second time,” said Miller. “I am honored to have been selected by the Canadian Soccer Association, and thank FC Edmonton’s organization, particularly owner Tom Fath, for its support in this process.”.

Updated 11:27 am, January 17, 2013:
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