Despite the best efforts of her American team mates to get the ball
to her in the friendly played in front of 32,950 fans in New
Orleans, Wambach had only a couple of half-chances to add to her
tally of 184 international goals.
China struggled to get the ball out of their own half for long
periods, but scored on a rare attacking foray when Wang Shuang
connected with a cross in the 58th minute, her shot deflecting past
a wrong-footed American goalkeeper Hope Solo.
The result, the first home loss for the U.S. since 2004, was not
exactly the perfect Wambach send-off but it did not detract too much
from an evening that was largely a celebration of her career.
She was substituted after 71 minutes, trotting off the pitch to a
standing ovation after removing her boots and hugging several team
Wambach bowed out with 184 goals, the most by either man or woman in
internationals, from 255 matches. Iranian Ali Daei holds the men's
record with 109 goals in 149 games.
"It is time to go. I think it's a little fitting that this is the
result," Wambach said in a pitch-side interview.
"I know everybody wanted to get me a goal. That's probably why we
didn't score, because they were so focused on trying to get me a
"I think it's kind of appropriate I lost my last game. Today wasn't
about winning. Today was about celebrating a long career and almost
the end of an era."
Wambach, 35, will be remembered for her unflinching determination to
advance the cause of American, and women’s, soccer on and off the
She was part of an unsuccessful player lawsuit that sued FIFA over
its decision to play this year's Women's World Cup in Canada on
And just two weeks ago she was a member of the American team that
refused to play a match on what it said was sub-standard artificial
turf in Hawaii, a stance that forced the US Soccer Federation to
cancel the contest.
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Outspoken to the last, she made her swansong on artificial turf at
the Superdome just hours after saying U.S. men's coach Juergen
Klinsmann should be fired for playing too many overseas-born
Wambach retires just months after finally adding a World Cup
winner's medal to her collection, even if she only came on as a
substitute late in the final against Japan.
The World Cup capped a career that includes two Olympic gold medals
and the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year title.
"She’s been vocal about everything, whether it's turf-related
issues, whether it's just making this team atmosphere better,
whether it's fighting for women's rights, equal pay, she's done it
all," team mate Carli Lloyd said.
"I don't think anyone will ever bring what she brings, her
leadership on and off the field ... She's basically carried the team
on her shoulders over the years."
Coach Jill Ellis summed up the feelings of many in U.S women's
"She will be irreplaceable."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Nick
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