Wambach hopes to return for pro league in spring

July 21, 2008

Injured U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach hopes to return in time for the debut of the new Women's Professional Soccer league in the spring.

The national team's leading scorer said she knew the moment she collided with Brazilian defender Andreia Rosa last Wednesday that her leg was broken and she'd miss the Olympics.

"I looked down and my knee was pointing up and my foot was pointing in a little bit different direction," Wambach said Monday on a conference call.

She underwent surgery Thursday to have a titanium rod inserted in her lower left leg after fracturing the tibia and fibula. Wambach, who attended her first physical therapy session Monday, is optimistic she'll be playing again in about six months.

People keep asking how she remained so calm after going down. Maybe some of it was shock, Wambach said, but she also forced herself to immediately accept her fate.

"I know what it takes to win a gold medal, and I know that one person isn't going to be the answer," she said. "I wanted to set the example to my teammates to see on my face that ... it's possible no matter what, where, when or who you're playing to win on any given day."

Wambach's replacement, Natasha Kai, scored the winning goal against Brazil.

It was the first major injury of Wambach's career, her first invasive surgery and her first trip in an ambulance. She plans to watch the U.S. squad's Olympic matches with other injured teammates on her big-screen TV at home in Los Angeles -- in the middle of the night, Pacific time.

She called her replacement on the roster, Lauren Cheney, from the hospital, and through the morphine encouraged her not to feel bad about making the team because of an injury.

"Have I cried tears over it?" Wambach said. "Yeah, this is a horrible accident and very bad timing. But I don't feel sorry for myself because this is what my life has shown me."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press