Soccer

After White House celebration, Abby Wambach retires

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After White House celebration, Abby Wambach retires

By ANNE M. PETERSON

Abby Wambach is leaving her game just the way she wanted to -- as a champion.

The leading career scorer -- male or female -- in international soccer, Wambach announced her retirement on Tuesday shortly after the U.S. national team celebrated its Women's World Cup victory at the White House.

Wambach, 35, said before the World Cup this summer in Canada that she wanted to cap her 15-year career with the game's most prestigious championship.

She got her wish. The United States claimed its third overall World Cup title, and first since 1999, with a 5-2 victory over Japan.

The prolific scorer, named the 2012 FIFA Player of the Year, has 184 goals in 252 international matches.

She will play the final four matches of the national team's 10-game victory tour before stepping down. Her final match will be Dec. 16 against China in New Orleans.

"After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I've decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end," Wambach said in a statement. "While we still have more work to do for women's soccer, after bringing the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I'm feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our sport. It's been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can't wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings."

Wambach appeared in four World Cups with the national team. She also has a pair of Olympic gold medals from the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2012 Games in London. She did not compete in the Beijing Games because of a broken leg.

Perhaps one of her most famous goals came in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup in Germany, when she scored the equalizer against Brazil in the 122nd minute.

She finishes as the all-time leading U.S. scorer in both Olympic and World Cup games. She played 25 total World Cup matches with 14 goals, second only to Brazil's Marta. She played in 10 Olympic matches with nine goals.

Overall, she's also the leader in multiple-goal games with 45, including two four-goal games and a five-goal game.

She joins Mia Hamm as the only Americans to win FIFA's player of the year honors.

Before she announced her retirement, Wambach and her teammates were feted by President Barack Obama at the White House.

"This team taught all America's children that playing like a girl means you're a badass," Obama said, to applause in the White House East Room. "Perhaps I shouldn't have used that phrase. Playing like a girl means being the best."

Following the ceremony, Wambach took a selfie with Obama and her teammates.

The United States dominated Japan in the World Cup title game after a monthlong tournament that crisscrossed Canada. Carli Lloyd was named the tournament's MVP after scoring three goals in the span of 16 minutes in the final match.

Wambach saw her role with the team change during the World Cup. She came in off the bench in several matches, sacrificing a starting role for the good of the team.

"I just have this belief system, and I've talked about it my whole career, that it takes a whole team. It's not about one person. It will never be about one person in a team sport," she said before the final match.

Wambach made it her mission throughout her career to help grow the women's game, and to fight for equal rights for female athletes. She led a group of players in protesting FIFA's decision to play the 2015 World Cup on artificial turf, which is considered by many players to be inferior to grass. In the end, the tournament was still held on the fake grass, but Wambach had made her point.

"What she has done for women's soccer and women's sports overall with her amazing talents on the field and her personality off it has been inspiring to watch," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I am just extremely happy that she could end her career with that elusive World Cup title and go out on top, right where she deserves to be."

Lisa De Vanna, co-captain of the Australian women's team, went to Twitter: "Only one word can sum up (at)AbbyWambach `legend'."

Hamm posted: "Thank you for carrying the game on your shoulders and leading us with such character, courage, and grit. Congrats. G.O.A.T."

G.O.A.T., by the way, is an acronym for Greatest Of All Time.

Wambach, who is scheduled to speak before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, thanked her fans with a tweet: "Nothing made me prouder than to wear the red, white and blue. Thank you for sending your thoughts and kind words."

Received 10/27/15 05:59 pm ET

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

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USA Today Sports Images

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS:

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Washington Dulles International Airport was flooded by soccer fans alike Thursday afternoon awaiting the arrival of one specific person inside the international arrivals terminal: England's all-time goalscorer Wayne Rooney. 

Over 100 fans packed the halls as the 32-year-old made his way out of the airport while posing for pictures and signing autographs. 

Rooney penned a two-and-a-half year guaranteed contract worth about $13 million, which makes him the highest-paid player in D.C. United history. 

He officially becomes available to play for the club beginning July 10, after the transfer window opens. This means his first game could potentially be against Vancouver inside the brand new Audi Field July 10. 

After greeting fans at the airport, Rooney and his camp piled into two blacks SUVs en route to Northeast D.C. 

Little did World Cup fans taking in the England-Belgium match at Wunder Garten know that they were about to be surprised by Wayne Rooney himself. 

In an appearance that lasted just over seven minutes and included a slew of selfies, short conversations and one television interview, Rooney's presence dazzled fans and left others stunned. 

One England native who is now a D.C. resident told me: "We grew up watching him (Rooney) score in the World Cup and that was really important to us. It's hard to believe he just walked through here."

As you would imagine, management at Wunder Garten was thrilled, too.  

"It was great for us because it put us on the map. For someone as famous as Wayne Rooney to come through our establishment, shake hands and hang out, that means a lot. We loved having him here and would love to have him back," said Michael Keller, a member of the bar's management staff. 

 The Englishman will have his hands full as he attempts to put D.C. United back on the map this season. 

Follow Rooney on Twitter and Instagram @WayneRooney.