Wambach breaks leg, will miss Olympics

July 17, 2008 6:34:00 PM PDT
Abby Wambach has to take a new approach: Instead of getting ready for the Olympics she has to start rehabbing a broken leg. The star forward on the U.S. women's soccer team was to have a titanium rod inserted in her left leg Thursday. The injury, coming in the team's final tuneup Wednesday night against Brazil in San Diego, is expected to sideline her for about 12 weeks.

The U.S. begins defense of its gold medal on Aug. 6 against Norway.

"I'm excited to watch them and cheer them on during this challenge they've been presented with," Wambach said after the game. "It's really going to take everyone coming together. I love them all so much, and appreciate so many people involved with this game and the team.

"I put my heart and soul into this game every day, but sometimes accidents happen. I've gotten so many calls already, and I just want to say how much I appreciate that."

Wambach, the team's leading scorer, became entangled with Brazilian defender Andreia Rosa in the first half of a scoreless game. Both players tumbled and Wambach immediately signaled to the sideline for help. Her leg was put in an inflatable brace and she was carted off the field.

Natasha Kai replaced Wambach and scored the game's only goal on a header in the 84th minute off a free kick from Carli Lloyd.

Wambach, one of the most experienced players on a young U.S. squad, has 13 goals and 10 assists this year. She is one goal shy of becoming the ninth female player and fifth American to reach 100 goals.

"My heart sank," Kai said, when seeing Wambach was hurt. "She's a big piece of a great team."