Abby Wambach will not play for the Western New York Flash in the NWSL this season. The United States striker has decided that it is most important to focus on the World Cup this summer, and that the best way to do that is to skip the club season.
"I am so proud of our league and truly appreciate the support of the Sahlen’s and the fans of Western New York," Wambach said in a release. "At this stage of my career I know what I need to prepare mentally and physically for this summer. My sole focus is to help bring a World Cup back to the U.S."
Wambach's commitment to domestic club soccer can't be questioned. She has played every season of U.S. club soccer since being drafted in 2002. The real question is what this says about a player that the Americans are counting on this summer, who will be 35 years old by the time the World Cup starts.
Winning the World Cup has been Wambach's focus ever since the Americans lost in the final four years ago. In recent years, she has rested more and done her best to keep her body as fresh as possible for this summer. But her form has dipped and she hasn't made the same impact that she used to.
Tom Sermanni made a point of trying to diversify the team so they had other options than Wambach and, while Jill Ellis has done the same, it has been rather unsuccessful under her stewardship. The team still needs her, and that is a concern ahead of a tournament that will ask them to play seven matches on turf in less than a month.
Maybe Wambach is being wise and she'll be at her best come the World Cup because she is fresh. But this could be one last desperate step to preserve the body of a player whose age has shown of late and the U.S. will be left without the striker they are still dependent on. Hopefully it's the former.