Featured Matches
Previous
Tottenham Hotspur
AEL
3
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 5 - 1
Game Details
Internazionale
Stjarnan
6
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 9 - 0
Game Details
Hull City
KSC Lokeren
2
1
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
FK Astra Giurgiu
Lyon
0
1
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Krasnodar
Real Sociedad
3
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Perugia
Bologna
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Union Berlin
Nurnberg
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FSV Frankfurt
RB Leipzig
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
VfR Aalen
Kaiserslautern
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AJ Auxerre
Valenciennes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ajaccio GFCO
Troyes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Chateauroux
Orléans
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Le Havre AC
Créteil
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Nimes
Arles
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Niort
Clermont Foot
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sochaux
Dijon FCO
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stade Laval
AC Ajaccio
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Go Ahead Eagles
Willem II Tilburg
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Achilles '29
Fortuna Sittard
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
Jong Ajax
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Helmond Sport
NEC Nijmegen
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Jong PSV
FC Eindhoven
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
RKC Waalwijk
Jong FC Twente
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Almere City
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sparta Rotterdam
FC Volendam
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
FC Emmen VV
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Academica de Coimbra
Vitoria Setubal
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
Terek Grozny
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Akhisar Belediye
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Caykur Rizespor
Genclerbirligi
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
KAA Gent
KV Kortrijk
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Helsingborg
Halmstad
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Orebro SK
Brommapojkarna
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Athlone Town FC
Cork
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bray
UCD
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Derry City
St Patricks
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundalk
Bohemians
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Limerick FC
Drogheda Utd
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shamrock
Sligo
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Glenavon
Ballymena
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Coleraine
Portadown
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Queretaro
Monterrey
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
U. de G.
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Aberystwyth
Bangor City
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Carmarthen
Port Talbot
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Connah's Quay
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Airbus UK
Newtown
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Rhyl
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Atlético Tucumán
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Crucero del Norte
7:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Huracán
Patronato
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Ferro Carril Oeste
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Temperley
Sp. Belgrano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
San Martín de San Juan
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
At. San Luis
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Lobos BUAP
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
Oeste
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
América Mineiro
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Goianiense
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Arica
Palestino
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
12 de Octubre
Nacional
Postp
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Moroka Swallows
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Chippa United
Ajax Cape Town
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Next

Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 20 hours ago
Read
Aug 1, 2008

Pressure is on Wambach's replacements

Abby Wambach might be living a Shakespearean tragedy, or comedy if she had it her way. She'd rather the fuss over her broken leg be "Much Ado About Nothing." Addressing the media over a conference call last week, Wambach reflected on her newfound perspective, "It's going to be important not to forget about this team because one of their star players has gone down. I do not encapsulate this whole team. Frankly, I'm a little shocked that anybody really cares about little old me."

But the player and staff expressions following the Wambach aftershock told the real story. From the looks of the coaching staff's bowed heads, and Carli Lloyd quietly telling a teary-eyed Lindsay Tarpley "I can't stop shaking," the U.S. women's national team was living a nightmare.

It was painful to see Wambach's violent tumble, but it was something else to see her fluttering hand call for help, the figurative white flag for all who looked on with dismay. The immediate conclusion? The U.S. women would have to surrender gold medal expectations and hopes for another world championship without Abby the Goliath.

Wambach quickly assures otherwise, "There's no doubt this team can win a gold medal. You just have to open your eyes."

It wasn't enough to suffer a humiliating loss to Brazil last World Cup, which the team had finally reconciled after nearly imploding last fall. It wasn't enough to lose Kristine Lilly for the year, and then Cat Whitehill and Leslie Osborne to back-to-back ACL tears. But it was almost too much to lose a marquee player, one away from 100 goals and on the cusp of leading the U.S. to the next Mia-esque reign -- and to the Brazilians of all teams. This is what we call textbook (and heart wrenching) irony.

U.S. women's schedule
U.S. vs. Norway
Aug. 6
Qinhuangdao, China
7:45 a.m. ET

U.S. vs. Japan
Aug. 9
Qinhuangdao, China
5 a.m. ET

U.S. vs. New Zealand
Aug. 12
Qinhuangdao, China
7:45 a.m. ET

On the bright side, the final blow will serve as more fuel to the fire, especially for U.S. players who've operated as the appendages behind the team's media darling the last two years. Even Abby grasps this conundrum, and she hopes her teammates do too.

"I don't think there is an expectation for somebody to step in and take my place," Wambach said. "I think you would be setting yourself up for failure only because if you knew how loud I was, you would know that nobody would ever reach that level of volume. But none of us are replaceable."

With this refrain in mind, Abby called her replacement. Dialing 20-year-old Lauren Cheney from the hospital, after she had a titanium rod inserted to reinforce her broken tibia and fibula, Wambach wanted to make sure the UCLA star had her head on straight.

The 5-foot-9 forward would need to use it, newly crowned as the tallest striker on the team.

"You've got to get your shoes out and start running," Wambach said. "I want you to go there and not feel bad being selected in this type of way. It won't do you, or the team any good."

There's no better person to take Abby's place than Cheney, who has played the role of the underdog since she was 3, overcoming open-heart surgery to correct a congenital defect. When it comes to second chances, Cheney doesn't back down.

Cheney will also help plug the gap on offense, especially against larger opponents like Germany and Canada. But unless coach Pia Sundhage decides to put the next tallest player, and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart up top (she won't), the U.S. will just have to rely on Amy Rodriguez's speed, Natasha Kai's vertical and Cheney's ball skills. Flank midfielders Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O'Reilly, who have each played forward in the past, will be supporting the inexperienced front line.

But if anyone knows they need to show up big at the Olympics, it's Kai, the yin to Wambach's yang. The two looked well on their way to becoming the most inspired scoring duo to come out of the U.S. camp since, well ... ever. The combination of a 5-foot-11 goal-scoring machine and a tattooed athletic prodigy was enough to psych out most defenses the U.S. faced in 2008. Fortunately, Kai possesses enough energy and attitude to designate her as a different kind of bull's-eye up top.

Wambach's loss will be just another challenge for Sundhage in a year that has already required her to be a team psychologist, cheerleader, friend and boss. But Sundhage, who experienced her share of hard knocks in her storied career for Sweden, felt Abby's injury most acutely of all. "On a personal level, she was pissed for me," Wambach said. "Pia and I have a special relationship. She came to my house, we sat and talked for a while. She's a realistic person. She knows that it was an accident that may never be explained."

Pia is not one to languish in the past, especially since her U.S. contract renewal largely depends on the medal color the Americans bring home. "She is a special one for sure," Sundhage acknowledged. "However, I am confident the team will respond. We will change the attacking style a little bit, but we've been able to adjust the way we've played at several points during this year."

It's up to Sundhage to turn a broken leg into a blessing in disguise. Without their goal-scoring crutch, the evolution of the newfangled American possession game will be expedited (or even liberated) in a way that was not possible before with Wambach on the pitch. Even the prolific striker was getting more assists than ever under Sundhage's direction -- a testament to the team's development. We might get to say goodbye to the long ball after all, which was designed specifically for Abby.

Olympic opponents will need an entirely new scouting report, because the U.S. is the one team that manages to be both an underdog and a favorite at the same time.

In the meantime, Wambach will focus on her short game, or at least "be completely in the moment" when it comes to her rehabilitation. Although her recovery could take as little as 12 weeks, her full comeback might take as long as a year -- just in time for the start of WPS. A lofty goal, but Wambach wouldn't have it any other way.

Lindsey Dolich is a contributor to ESPN The Magazine and covers the U.S. women's national team for ESPNsoccernet. She can be reached at soccerdols@gmail.com.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.