Abby already getting in some coaching at the WNY Flash-MagicJack game on Wednesday
Abby Wambach used her head to score one of the most memorable goals in U.S. soccer history. Now she has a chance to use her head even more.
For the rest of this season, Wambach will not only play for, but also coach, Boca Raton-based magicJack, her club in the Women's Professional Soccer league, team owner Dan Borislow said Thursday.
"The thing people don't know is she's incredibly smart," Borislow said. "If you gave her an IQ test, she'd probably come out a genius."
Wambach, 31, helped lead the United States to a runner-up finish in the Women's World Cup in Germany, which concluded with a shootout loss to Japan on Sunday.
She secured her place in women's soccer history by heading in a dramatic goal in the 122nd minute of a quarterfinal victory over Brazil. She also scored on a header to give the Americans a short-lived lead in extra time against Japan.
Wambach has since been on a whirlwind TV tour that included The Late Show with David Letterman. She received a hero's welcome Wednesday during magicJack's sold-out match in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., receiving a key to the city.
Now, she has the keys to magicJack.
Borislow said Wambach accepted the role without hesitation.
"Everybody respects Abby," he said. "She does a good job of getting along with everybody and motivating them."
After playing in Atlanta on Saturday, magicJack will play its first home match since the World Cup at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Sky Blue, of Somerset, N.J.
Borislow expects all national-team players except goalkeeper Hope Solo to be available for magicJack, which is trying to add seats because of increased interest. Current seating at the FAU soccer field is extremely limited.
Solo required painkilling injections before World Cup matches on her surgically repaired shoulder and is in "a lot of pain," Borislow said.
Although Wambach is worn out from the World Cup, plenty of work awaits on a team that is 5-5-1.
MagicJack, which plays at Florida Atlantic University, began 3-0 under coach Mike Lyons before he was reassigned. The team slumped while the coaching duties were in a state of flux and the roster was devoid of seven players away on national-team duties.
But throughout this season, Wambach's influence on matches and practices was clear, so her transition to player-coach might appear seamless to teammates.
"She was actually coaching before she left," Borislow said.
Wambach's work rate as a player also convinced Borislow she's right for the job. He said all magicJack players are required to wear heart-rate monitors during games, and Wambach set a club record by maintaining at least 160 beats per minute for more than 70 minutes.
"She leads by example," Borislow said of Wambach, whose 122 national-team goals trail only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130).
Addressing the Rochester fans at halftime Wednesday, Wambach made a vow for next summer's London Olympics.
"I am not coming home unless I have gold," she said. "Gold is it, baby."
MagicJack midfielder Lindsay Tarpley, dropped from the World Cup roster after tearing a knee ligament, underwent successful surgery but it unlikely to play again this calendar year, Borislow said.
He also said he offered a contract to defender Ali Krieger, the only unsigned player on the U.S. team, but doubts she'll play in WPS this season. Krieger, whose mother teaches at Miami-Carrollton High, made the winning penalty kick in the shootout against Brazil.
Oh, magicjack...they were Washington Freedom but were bought by Dan Borislow, inventor of the magicjack usb device. And then he bought about half the USWNT. In a world cup year when they'd all be gone a lot.
Their coach left/was fired/idek and then Borislow himself was banned from matches (and fined). I hear that at the game on Wednesday no one knew what the line-up was going to be before the game, and Abby was the only one communicating with the players from the bench.
I also hear that Christie Rampone is likely to help Abby out - she became player-coach of Sky Blue FC at the end of the 2009 WPS season and led them through the playoffs to a championship! So I feel bad for all the players cos it seems like a stressful club to play for, but I'm excited because I adore Abby and Christie. And I think player-coaches are sexy.
Here are a couple articles on the coaching and the disciplinary measures, I couldn't find a good solid summary of the whole saga:
and bonus Abby in an excessively tight Washington Freedom kit, because I love you all
no tag for abby?
ETA: Oh my god I just found this article as well, I didn't even know that the players filed a grievance against them. Even if it is, as he says, from players who were cut from the team, it's not hard to imagine that it's an accurate characterization and that current players feel the same way. He is a worrying guy.
Less than a week after the thrilling Women's World Cup, Abby Wambach already is taking on new challenges. She will spend the rest of the Women's Professional Soccer season as player-coach for magicJack.
She will need to settle a team whose results suffered in the absence of its national team players, even as those players, such as Shannon Boxx, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Wambach, recover from the grueling Cup chase.
And she will need to soothe whatever conflicts remain in the wake of a grievance filed July 8 by the WPS Players Union after complaints surfaced from current and former magicJack players. That grievance prompted the league on July 14 to ban owner and sometimes coach Dan Borislow from the sideline for the rest of the year.
WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas said by email that in addition to the suspension, the league "prohibited him from retaliating against players in relation to the grievance."
Borislow is anything but apologetic.
"I don't know one player who was involved in the grievance," Borislow wrote in an email. "I believe it was a player or players who were let go."
Among the accusations in the grievance, Borislow allegedly sent emails to his players that "demonstrate his practice of bullying and threatening players, and his creation of a hostile, oppressive, and intimidating work environment which adversely affects players' ability [to] perform."
"You can ask the players with character and heart if they think it's true," he said. "Or you can believe a player who does not belong in the league who was only there because the league decided to have amateurs play while the [national team] was away."
The union also claims Borislow was never qualified to act as coach, citing U.S. Soccer regulations that require WPS coaches to hold a U.S. "A" license within two years of their appointment.
Said Borislow: "The league and union don't even know my grade and if I was graded. It's a kangaroo court run by a hater."
After original coach Mike Lyons was reassigned three games into the season, magicJack rotated several people in the position, including Christie Rampone, former Palm Beach Atlantic University player Richard Bone and Borislow. But this week, Borislow said Wambach would be in charge for the team's seven remaining games and playoffs.
Before Wambach's appointment, Eileraas said, "We hope magicJack will select a qualified and capable coach meeting the standards required by the U.S. Soccer Federation to lead the team through the remaining weeks of the season."
The union will not challenge Wambach's credentials.
The league has precedent for a player-coach. U.S. captain and magicJack defender Rampone temporarily took the reins of Sky Blue FC in 2009 and led the team to the first WPS championship. Borislow hinted at a leadership role for Rampone, saying she and Wambach are good leaders who know the game well. But the primary coaching duties will fall to Wambach.
Wambach might have a chance to duplicate Rampone's feat. Sky Blue finished fourth in 2009 but won three road games in the playoffs to take the title. In the current WPS standings, South Florida-based magicJack holds the fourth and final playoff spot by two points over New Jersey-based Sky Blue. But the team could climb quickly with national team players back in the mix and with a game in hand over Sky Blue and third-place Boston Breakers.
Wambach did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Borislow said he considers her quite qualified.
"Abby is not only a great player who sacrifices everything, she knows the game incredibly well. But the best-kept secret in sports as how [darn] smart she is," Borislow said. "Her IQ I am sure is off the charts, and she is really good with her teammates."
And he said he wishes they could all be like Wambach.
"If we had 50 Abbys, guys would be watching women's soccer instead of football on Sundays," he said.
AAUGH HE SOUNDS LIKE SUCH A NUTJOB.