Harrison, NJ — On a magical and historic night for the U.S. Women's National Team, forward Abby Wambach needed less than a half hour against Korea Republic to become greatest goal scorer in women's international soccer during a 5-0 rout of Korea Republic at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Wambach scored four goals -- all in the first half -- but it was the third strike in the 29th minute that gave her 159 for career and moved her past former U.S. Women's National Team forward Mia Hamm to become the all-time leading leader in career international goals. Fittingly, she scored the record-breaking goal on a trademark diving header off a perfect corner kick from Megan Rapinoe, who famously sent her the cross that she headed home in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil.
Wambach's teammates engulfed her as the players and the staff on the U.S. bench sprinted out onto the field to join them in a joyous celebration.
"It's surreal to begin with," said Wambach. "I'm so thankful and my teammates were trying to get me those goals. I can't thank them enough. As a competitor you want to be done with the things that put me at the forefront of conversations. This team is too good to be talking about one person."
Wambach got goal No. 157 in the 10th minute after showing strength inside the penalty area with a powerful spin move in front of the net amongst six surrounding Korean players. She smacked her shot on the ground into the left corner from 10 yards out and the crowd of almost 20,000 fans could sense that it would be a special night. She then tied the record with goal number 158 off a spectacular redirected diving header in the 19th minute. Lauren Cheney wiggled free on the left wing and sent a perfect cross into the middle for Wambach to power home. Of Wambach's 160 career goals, 69 have come with her head.
Wambach took the first steps to putting some distance between herself and Hamm with a goal in injury time of the first half on a low cross that Alex Morgan could have shot, but instead rolled across the goal mouth to her history-making teammate. Wambach slid to stretch the net from close range and now leads all players past and present with 160 career international goals.
Wambach was subbed out in the 58th minute for Christen Press to cheers of "Abby" from the crowd, and received congratulatory hugs from teammates.
After starting her first match since returning from injury, WNT goalkeeper Hope Solo didn't see much action in the 45 minutes she played, and gave way to Jill Loyden for the second half.
Cheney, who picked assists on the first two Wambach goals, scored her second goal in two games with a 64th minute tally from a point-perfect cross from 52nd minute substitute Kelley O'Hara.
The WNT had a flurry of chances in the game, outshooting the Koreans 25-2, and only allowing one shot on goal, while earning 11 corner kicks.
This was the final U.S. Women's National Team match during the current NWSL season. The U.S.-based players will now return to their clubs and will not come together again until after the inaugural NWSL champion is crowned.