She has scored many international goals, more than anyone has netted ever, but none can compare to this one.
It was July 10, 2011 in Dresden. The 121st minute of the game. In extra time of over time. There was so much history at stake. Four years earlier Brazil embarrassed the United States, handing the Americans a harsh 4-0 defeat in the 2007 World Cup semifinal. It was looking like 2011 was not only going to be a quarterfinal versioned repeat, but the American women’s worst finish ever in a World Cup (Wahl).
The game had been an eventful whirlwind of ups and downs, full of titillating controversy and intense emotion. The own goal by Daiane, the yellow card for Marta, the red card for Buehler, the saved penalty kick, the yellow card for Solo, the finished penalty by Marta, the offside goal by Marta, the injury faking by Erika. All leading up to the goal by Wambach.
There was no time left. The game should have already ended, and if not for the time wasted by Erika, it would have. The Brazilians were seeing the game out, holding the ball in the corner. Defender Rampone gained possession and immediately launched the ball into the midfield. Lloyd held the ball for what seemed like an eternity in the waning seconds of the heated game before passing the ball off to Rapinoe. The winger put her head down and threw all of her energy into the driving the ball. Rapinoe’s cross sailed to its destination 45 yards away, drawing Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia off of her line. As the perfectly weighted ball slipped through Andreia’s reaching grasp, Wambach leapt into the air to meet the pass with her forehead, deftly flicking the ball inside the right post. In the roaring stadium, the beautiful sound of the ball hitting the net was as clear as a bell, audibly marking the goal that some would come to call the shot heard around the world (Wahl).
In the words of Ian Darke, “Oh, can you believe it? Abby Wambach has saved the USA’s life in this World Cup!” But she did much more than that. The goal by Wambach gave a new energy to women’s soccer’s following in the United States. The Americans went on to clinch the dramatic comeback win in the penalty shoot out, and the popularity of women’s soccer was re-ignited for the first time since the famous 1999 World Cup victory. Eerily, the game had been won in similar penalty kick and nerve-racking fashion, 12 years prior to the day. In 2011, the win did not bring home the championship for the U.S., but it generated the excitement for the women’s game that has been burning ever since.
This video is a typography of Ian Darke’s call of the famous goal by Wambach made as a tribute for her retirement in 2015. Though it doesn’t contain any footage from the game, Darke’s words and the visuals capture the excitement and suspense of the moment.
Wahl, Grant. “One Heady Moment.” The 10 Most Significant Goals in U.S. Soccer History, Sports Illustrated, https://www.si.com/longform/soccer-goals/goal9.html, Accessed 29 January 2019.