[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT] U.S. striker Abby Wambach was a member of the U.S. teams that finished third in the 2003
and 2007 Women's World Cup tournaments. Getting over the semifinal hurdle with the 3-1 win over France isn't the goal she has in mind in 2011.
"Getting to the final is one thing, and winning is another," she said in a teleconference call with the media. "This isn’t good enough for me. I came in third place in ’03, and came in third place in ’07. Getting to the final is only half of our dream coming true and we want to make sure that we’re on that top podium come Sunday."
A broken leg forced her out of the 2008 Olympic soccer tournament in which the U.S. won the gold medal. She has been bothered by an an Achilles tendon injury at the 2011 Women's World Cup but has still played every minute.
"There’s been a lot of questions about my fitness and about my health," she said. "If you’re feeling pain going into this next game, when it’s the final, there’s something wrong with you as a soccer player, because this is the pinnacle, this is the dream, this is the goal that we’ve all set."
Wambach has tried to ignore the media storm that surrounded her dramatic, last-second goal that tied Brazil, 2-2, in the quarterfinals last Sunday.
"It’s funny, because most people might not like this answer, but the truth is, I’m kind of ignoring it all until the tournament’s over," she said. "The goals, the awards, all of that stuff is so ego-based, individualist stuff that I’m not even going to acknowledge until this whole thing is over. The only way we’re going to win is if we do it together, the only way we’ll put ourselves in a position to be world champions is to continue on the same path we’ve been on."
Wambach credits her intensity on the field in part from her upbringing in Rochester, N.Y.
"If you look at all the losses I’ve ever had, if you look at all the adversity I’ve had to deal with in my life, I think I was born to be a professional athlete," she said. "At the age of 7, I was thrown into a hockey goal with goalie pads and told to stay there. I was put in positions where my competitiveness was being taught at a very young age."