Brandi Chastain Abby Wambach

The U.S. Women's National Team concludes its World Cup Victory Tour with a friendly Wednesday against China at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The match will be Abby Wambach's final cap for the USWNT, as the 35-year-old is retiring. Fellow American legend, Brandi Chastain, 47, met a much younger Wambach as the two overlapped in their international careers. Speaking on behalf of Liberty Mutual Insurance, Chastain, known for her World Cup-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup, talks about Wambach's legacy, the USWNT's battle with turf fields and the popularity of soccer among American girls.

Brandi Chastain

ThePostGame: The Women's National Team had a match canceled a week and a half ago because of a turf issue. What was your reaction to that? Did you have any sort of run-in with turf when you played?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: It's an issue for all players. The men's national team has been to many venues throughout their history where substandard turf or playing field has been an issue. I have to stand with the women in terms of their solidarity to be safe. That's the bottom line. What we all hope is we can all go to the field and put on the best performance with the best players in the world. That's what we get to see with the Women's National Team tonight. We get to celebrate Abby Wambach's career. Dealing with the turf, it's not ideal. I feel like they handled it very professionally and in a manner that got attention about what we're trying to achieve.

TPG: Do you think it is a slap in the face to the women's game that the players were literally pulling the turf up from the field one day before the match?
CHASTAIN: There needs to be some sort of monitoring system that it should already be known that the field is in the best shape possible for the best players in the world on the best team in the world. That's the functionality that needs to be rectified.

TPG: Did you play on any turf or was it all grass during your career?
CHASTAIN: In my national team career, we played on a few artificial turf surfaces. In our professional leagues, we played on some artificial turf on a regular basis.


TPG: How legitimate is the players' argument that the only way is no turf?
CHASTAIN: As players, we hope that we can play on only grass. The game started on grass. For myself, it's what I love playing on, but I feel the way of the future is on artificial surfaces. That's something that can be in place around the world. What FIFA needs to do is make sure that all surfaces around the world, if they will be used for international competition, are the best and highest grade possible.

TPG: What kind of statement do you think it makes that they did not actually play the match instead of tabling this to a future incident?
CHASTAIN: The statement is loud and clear. I also think that I would hate to be having a conversation with you right now after somebody got injured. That's the worst case scenario. I'm happy with the stance. I'm disappointed that they had to make the decision, but we move forward. Tonight is an awesome opportunity to celebrate the game and to celebrate our partnership with Liberty Mutual Insurance, which goes above and beyond giving us an opportunity to do our best and engage with fans around the world. And we get to celebrate Abby Wambach's decision to step away from the game.

Abby Wambach

TPG: Moving on to happier topics, Abby Wambach. Is it almost surreal thinking that her career is finally done?
CHASTAIN: (Laughs) Yeah, I was actually laying in bed this morning after my alarm went off and I was thinking what is my first memory of her? How long ago was that? As a person who never wanted to step away from the field, she's making that choice. I applaud her and I think how lucky she is because the majority of us -- 90-something percent -- don't get to make that choice. She's walking away at a time she could stay and go to another Olympic Games. She's traveled enough miles, she's scored enough goals, she's won enough awards, she's been to the highest points of our sport and she's decided she wants to do something else. That's amazing and incredible and incredibly fortunate.

TPG: Can you remember that first memory?
CHASTAIN: I was trying to think. We used to go to China. The team still goes to China a lot. It was probably one of those trips to China, all of us out in a foreign country. You're seeing these kids for the first time with their eyes wide open. Open-air markets and a whole different language, just remembering all of the young players taking it in and how much we laughed. I remember the soccer, but I remember how much we'd laugh together.

TPG: What was Abby like in a way that fans don't understand because they weren't in those locker rooms?
CHASTAIN: Every player, Abby, Mia, Julie, all the players you play with on the national team, we all go through an evolution. You start on the team as a rookie. You don't feel your power. You just feel like you want to fit in and make a difference, but you're taking it all in, initially. Then you see the impact you make on a daily basis and then in the games and then in the big picture. I remember Abby always being herself. It's a testament to her career. She's done it the way she's done it without any apologies or regrets and she's goofy and child-like in the beginning and wanting to make a splash and watching her grow. It was a pleasure watching probably the greatest goal-scorer grow up.

Is she the best player to play for the national team?
CHASTAIN: Best player? That's a tough debate. There's a lot of great players. I think you have to put Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm in that conversation.

TPG: How is the state of U.S. Soccer different now than when Abby Wambach started playing?
CHASTAIN: Like Mia, like Michelle, like Julie [Foudy], what Abby's given to this team and the organization, overall, is a voice, a face, incredible moments. More young girls are playing soccer than ever before and she's helping grow that trend. We're in a healthier place in terms of the sport in sheer numbers because those numbers since '91 to '99 [to now] went exponentially through the roof. Soccer falls at the top of the choice list in terms of young girls for what they're going to play.

TPG: Abby's goal in the 2011 World Cup ... the header against Brazil ... is that the second-best Women's National Team goal after your goal?
CHASTAIN: I think it's the No. 1 goal because it was in the run of play. In that moment, for those two players to connect, with just seconds ticking down, it has to be the most-timely goal in U.S. Soccer history. Maybe minus the goal that the U.S. (Men's) Team scored to go to the [Paul] Caligiuri, Bruce Murray World Cup in [1990].

TPG: As a person, how has Abby Wambach been a role model to young girls and fans everywhere?
CHASTAIN: What I love about Abby is she doesn't feel she's different than anybody else. She's a girl from a small town who grew up with brothers and sisters and probably got beat up by them and had to be tough. She found her voice on the field and then was relentless in the pursuit of excellence. I think it's a blueprint for any other young person that follows sports or even that doesn't follow sports. I think in each young person, there's that potential and you have to believe it's possible. I think the strength and character that Abby has is that there's nothing out there she didn't believe she couldn't do. That speaks to her desire to push the envelope and try to be better.

TPG: What's your relationship like with her?
CHASTAIN: It's a very open, nice relationship. We don't talk to each other every day or every week. I was talking to her last night (through text) and I said I can hardly wait to see you play live tomorrow and she was like, "Wait you're there!" I was like, "I wouldn't miss it!" There's just this respect between us, as there is between the group of us who played together.

Brandi Chastain PK

TPG: What are you expecting tonight and how is this team going to move forward with Megan [Rapinoe] out for an extended period of time (Rapinoe tore her ACL earlier this month in a training session)?
CHASTAIN: I'm excited about tonight. I think first we start off with a Liberty Mutual booth, where people can pick up their crown, #WearTheCrown. What I've been hearing on the news since I got [to New Orleans] is the crowd will be like an NFL game, which is awesome. That is not a small stadium. This is not an insignificant friendly match. I was also thinking about how the U.S. is playing China in Abby's last national team game. China used to be one of our greatest and most wonderful rivals. They've got a new coach, [Bruno Bini], a gentleman who had been coaching the French National Team. He is a wonderful developer of talent. I think it will be a wonderful match tonight beyond the hoopla of Abby's retirement.

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-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.

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