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Wambach out of Olympics
by Ridge Mahoney, July 17th, 2008 7:01AM



The U.S. women will head to the 2008 Olympic Games on the momentum of two straight victories over nemesis Brazil -- and a 21-0-1 record in 2008 -- but they will do so without their top scorer.

Natasha Kai scored the only goal of a 1-0 win Wednesday night at Torero Stadium in San Diego, and Kai will be one of the players counted on to make up for the absence of Abby Wambach, who suffered a broken leg in the 31st minute. Wambach, one goal shy of 100 for her international career, went into a tackle with Brazilian defender Andreia Rosa, and fell to the ground heavily.

An air cast was put on her leg and she was taken off the field on a stretcher. X-rays taken after the game confirmed a mid-oblique fracture of her tibia and fibula. Surgery to insert a rod in her leg was scheduled for Thursday, and she's expected to need about 12 weeks to recover.

Kai, who came on as a sub in the 56th minute, put away a Carli Lloyd free kick with five minutes remaining. She scored with a header from just inside the six-yard box for her 11th of 2008 and the 20th of her career.

Brazil lost a 1-0 decision to the U.S. for its second straight game played without attacking stars Cristiane and Marta. Amy Rodriguez notched the only goal Sunday in Commerce City, Colo.
Before the injury, Wambach had two chances to bag No. 100. She shot wide of the post in the fourth minute after drifting behind the Brazilian back line, and shortly thereafter rounded keeper Barbara but rather than shooting from a tight angle elected to pull the ball back, and the goalie snatched the ball from her feet.

U.S. Soccer will name a replacement for Wambach on the 18-player roster within a few days, though the range of options aren't yet known. The team is scheduled to leave for Beijing July 23.

When the squad was announced two weeks ago, well in advance of the official deadline, four alternates - including UCLA forward Lauren Cheney - were named, but a federation official was unsure if a replacement for Wambach had to come from those four alternates, or if the roster had yet to be officially submitted, in which case U.S. Soccer could name whoever it chose.

Wambach, 28, scored the winning goal against Norway in overtime at the 2004 Olympic final to bring the U.S. its second gold medal in Olympic soccer competition.

She trails only Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (129), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100) on the all-time scoring list.

July 16 in San Diego
USA 1 Brazil 0. Goal: Kai 85.
USA -- Solo, Chalupny, Rampone, Markgraf, Mitts, Boxx, O'Reilly, Tarpley (Kai, 56), Lloyd (Wagner, 86), Rodriguez, Wambach (Hucles, 38).
Brazil -- Barbara (Andrea, 46), Jatoba, Tania, Andreia Rosa (Raquel, 88), Rosana (Dani, 66), Formiga, Maicon, Ester, Pretinha (Maurine, 46), Fabiana (Francielle, 76).
Referee: Jen Bennett (USA).
Att.: 7,502.


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