Abby Wambach is playing the last international game of her career on Wednesday, when the United States plays host to China. After that, she will ride off into the sunset, and toward what figures to be a long, successful career as an analyst.
She's promised in the past that she would be a candid voice in retirement, and she's quickly proven that to be true. In a podcast interview with Bill Simmons, Wambach is asked about the U.S. men's soccer team and what she would do to turnaround its recent poor play.
She doesn't miss a beat.
"Oh man, I would definitely fire Jurgen," she says. “Sorry Sunil [Gulati], sorry U.S. Soccer.”
Gulati is the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, and while her comments don't run counter to many fans' sentiments, her comments are shocking nonetheless. It turns out Wambach has very strong opinions on Klinsmann's leadership style, and she doesn't see him fulfilling his promises to the U.S. soccer program -- not just the national team's play, but the country's development infrastructure.
"First of all, [Klinsmann] hasn't really focused, I feel like, enough attention on the youth programs. He says he has, I don't think that he has.
"The way that he has changed and brought in these foreign guys, it's just not something that I believe in."
Wambach is referring to guys like Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes, players with dual-citizenship in America and other countries, such as Germany, who opt to play for the United States because they can gain a more prominent role on the team. Wambach sees that as an insincere move by Klinsmann, and perhaps a temporary fix on a long-term problem.
Fans may agree with Wambach because they're unhappy about the latest on-field results, but Wambach seems much more troubled by the larger picture -- the youth development programs and Klinsmann's personal leadership philosophy. Her points are fair, and they might forecast even deeper troubles that haven't yet made their way onto the field of play.
Whatever the case, we're looking forward to hearing more from Wambach in the future, especially if she continues to be this candid.