Here we are..again.
Abby Wambach did an interview on local Rochester TV , WHAM ABC 13, about artificial turf. In the course of the interview she was asked what’s next for her in soccer or her life plans. She answered by saying she hasn’t decided yet, but she was planning on playing next summer in Rio. She went on to say she’s going to take a couple weeks of vacation to get away from the whirlwind of the last few weeks and maybe make some of the decisions about her future.
Cue the “we only hear what we want to hear” crowd. Abby did not say she expected to play, she knew she would play or even that she would play. What she did say was that at this time she’s planning on playing, but wasn’t certain what her decision would be and she’d think about it during her vacation.
If you follow Abby at all you’d know that at her core she’s a competitor. Her wanting to continue to play at the highest level is no revelation. It is also not her decision alone. She may want to be on the team in Rio, but the coaching staff and other players competing to make that team also have a say.
The US winning the world cup this time around and recent announcements of retirement also changes the dynamic of who goes to Rio. The Victory Tour will absolutely see Abby on the pitch for some minutes every game, it’s what the people want to see. It’s what sells tickets and generates revenue. But it also will allow Abby and the coaches to assess what Abby’s role, if any might be in the next year up to and including Rio. Abby herself said she didn’t want to walk away without that final jewel in her crown, the world cup trophy. Well now she has it so anyone buying into the theory that she will be kept on the team for sentimental reason can let that argument go. She’s already got Olympic gold so there’s no sentimental reason to keep her for Rio.
I really think the decision by the coaches on whether to consider Abby for Rio will depend on their development strategy going forward. If they view Rio as a chance to “change the guard” so to speak, then Abby , in her world cup form, wouldn’t really be a consideration other than a cursory “look”. If, on the other hand, they view Rio as an extension of this cycle, she will have a better chance, and I do mean chance, of getting more than a look and possibly even making the team. In either case, she will still have to be able to contribute something meaningful on the pitch.
I don’t envy her trying to make this decision and walking away from what she’s know all of her adult life so far. I will try to remember that she is an adult and has surrounded herself with family and friends and coworkers and coaches and agents who will help her make this decision.
And I will also try to remember that most people trying to push her out to pasture mean well, even if they have a strange way of wording it.
Whatever she decides, I am confident we’ll see her go into it with all the dedication and confidence she’s always shown.