In the days since the U.S. Women’s National Team narrowly advanced to the Round of 16, some former USWNT stars have criticized the team’s performance. Former captain Carli Lloyd, now a Fox Sports analyst, has been among the harshest critics.
Abby Wambach, the six-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year has offered a different approach: hope.
“There are two different ways you can consume sport. You can be hypercritical, or you can be hyper-hopeful,” Wambach said in an interview with AllforXI. “I happen to lean into the hopeful side of things. I have no advice, I just want the players to know that we believe in them.”
Ali Krieger, who played with Carli Lloyd on 3 World Cup squads, says Lloyd’s criticism of the #USWNT post-game smiles & selfies wasn’t “necessary.” “They’re allowed to enjoy the moment.” pic.twitter.com/Vni0g8oTJs— Michele Steele (@MicheleSteele) August 2, 2023
Ali Krieger, who played with Carli Lloyd on 3 World Cup squads, says Lloyd’s criticism of the #USWNT post-game smiles & selfies wasn’t “necessary.” “They’re allowed to enjoy the moment.” pic.twitter.com/Vni0g8oTJs
Wambach played in four World Cups in her international career, helping the USWNT to a championship in the 2015 tournament before retiring. The program won the crown again in 2019, but it has stumbled early this year: Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s team beat Vietnam, 3-0, in its opening contest, but then played Netherlands to a 1-1 draw and Portugal to a 0-0 draw.
Wambach cautioned fans against giving too much weight to commentators’ takes.
“The commentators can have their opinions, but can we just be smart about this,” she explained. “They’re going to say these are their opinions, through and through, but, they are getting paid to say things, and a sure way to continue to get paid to say things is to say the things that gets the most likes, clicks, and engagement. Don’t fall into the media trap of criticism over hope. Hope is the way.”
On Sunday, when the USWNT plays Sweden in the Round of 16, Wambach will be watching, and hoping, for a victory.
“These players are putting more pressure and have higher expectations than anybody else,” Wambach said. “I don’t care how many people in the world there are with their expectations and criticisms, these players have the highest expectations of themselves.”