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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

September 1, 2012
A PARTING HUG
Wambach says 'goodbye,' thanks Sundhage in her own unique way


ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- With 18 minutes remaining of the U.S. women's 8-0 win over Costa Rica on Saturday, striker Abby Wambach was replaced by Sydney Le Roux. Wambach, who recorded a brace at Sahlen Stadium, went over to coach Pia Sundhage on the U.S. bench and gave her a big hug.

Translated: there is little doubt that the players will miss Sundhage, who is leaving the team to take over as Sweden's women's coach.

I never do that," Wambach said of the hug. "Thats a sign, its going to be hard to leave a field and get into the locker room and not see her. I love Pia so much because she has shown me what its like to love the game. Her passion is contagious and I wish nothing but the best for her.

Striker Alex Morgan, who has become one of the world's most lethal strikers, said she will miss Sunduage.

She gave me my first cap and has helped me grow into this team gradually," she said. "Its been baby steps for me. I appreciate her doing that for me. I wish her well on her next journey.

Added Wambach: Were all sad, we love Pia. Shes done so much for our team and this game. Shes done a lot for soccer her whole life and shell definitely be missed.

Sundhage broke the news to the team on Saturday morning, prior to the game.

It was unfortunate, the timing," Morgan said. "Pia has a great opportunity in Sweden. This morning we found out the news so we wanted to play for her and we wanted to put on a good show for her and the fans.

The timing depends on one's vantage point. Sundhage will take over Sweden, which will host the UEFA Women's Championship next summer.

Its just good timing," she said. "Ive been around this team for five years and there is no big tournament for this team next year. Meanwhile, the most important tournament goes on in Europe. Its just a fantastic opportunity for me. Still, I have mixed feelings because just look at Abby Wambach and look at everything out here today. They dont have that in Sweden, but maybe they can get that.

Asked if winning the gold medal in London last month had anything to do with her decision, Sundhage replied, Gold is one thing, but the journey is what matters. Its all about the journey. Ive had three different journeys, 2008, 2011 and 2012 with different players. Im so happy when we play good soccer. . . . The fact that weve been winning many games, I think that helps, but if it wouldve been a silver medal or bronze medal I dont know if that wouldve mattered. Im not too big on redemption. Next year is a very big year for Sweden.

   
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