After a spectacular career, here is what Abby Wambach has left us with as her departing “take”:
I would definitely fire Jurgen [Klinsmann]. Sorry Sunil [Gulati], sorry, U.S. soccer, but I don’t think Jurgen and this litmus test on him has worked. He hasn’t really focused, I feel, enough attention on the youth programs. Although he says he has, I don’t think that he has, the way that he has brought in a bunch of these foreign guys is not something I believe in wholeheartedly. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in it in my heart.
Setting aside that she clearly doesn’t know what a “litmus test” is, the amount of ignorance in this statement is staggering- and I say this as somebody who wouldn’t shed a single tear if Klinsmann and/or Gulati where fired yesterday.
First off, the two people she mentioned by name while slagging “foreign guys,” are foreign guys. Except that they’re really not. Sunil Gulati was born in India and came to the U.S. with his parents at the age of five. He’s an American citizen. He has a graduate degree from one of the finest universities in this country. He is, whether you like his work with the USSF or not, the living embodiment of the “American Dream.” Klinsmann, though he has not made up his mind about becoming an American citizen, is married to an American, has lived in Southern California for years, and his children have dual citizenship in the U.S. and Germany.
Second, Wambach shows absolutely know knowledge of the different historical trajectories of the USMNT and the USWNT, college soccer in the United States, Title IX, or just about anything else that helped to account for the rapid rise and dominance of the USWNT- a dominance that has faded quite a bit since other countries (Norway, Sweden, Germany, Japan, France, Australia, China, etc.) have begun to take the women’s game as seriously as it has been taken here for the last thirty years. There are multiple reasons why the USMNT has had to bolster its ranks with foreign-born (that’s different than “foreign,” Abby should look up what makes somebody a U.S. citizen if she’s unclear on the distinction) players since it’s inception decades and decades ago. Competition from other sports, lack of professional opportunities domestically, and being viewed as the sport of lower/immigrant classes are only a few of the reasons. Think about that last one, by the way, and consider that women’s soccer (which, as many of you know, I dedicated a large chunk of my professional life to) has never had to deal with this issue- lacrosse may be the only American sport that is more white, suburban, middle and upper class.
Finally, I have to assume that as a player who has been around the highest levels of U.S. soccer for the better part of two decades Wambach has had the opportunity to rub elbows with a lot of USMNT players and coaches. Did she refuse to shake the hands of, oh, Jeff Agoos, Tab Ramos, Earnie Stewart, Thomas Dooley, Pablo Mastroeni, Dominic Kinnear, Fernando Clavijo, Janusz Michallik, Hugo Perez, Benny Feilhaber, Frank Klopas, Preki, Robin Fraser, or Juan Agudelo to name only a few? Things could get kind of awkward if, when she inevitably is voted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame, she has to share a stage or a table with any of these, “foreign guys.”
Congratulations on a great career, Abby.
To bad it ended like this.