Ahead of her last international match for the U.S. women’s team, Abby Wambach didn’t pull any punches in her assessment of the current state of the men’s game.
And if you’re U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, best look away now.
“Oh, man… I would definitely fire Jurgen (Klinsmann),” Wambach told The Bill Simmons podcast.
She questioned whether enough young American players were coming through the U.S. soccer system and whether Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson, who were born in Germany, should have been picked to play for the USMNT.
“First of all, Klinsmann hasn’t really focused, I feel like, enough attention on the youth programs. He says he has, I don’t think that he has,” said Wambach, whose 255th and final international was a 1-0 defeat against China in New Orleans on Wednesday.
“I also believe that the way he has changed and brought in a bunch of these foreign guys is just not something that I believe in wholeheartedly.”
Klinsmann won the World Cup with Germany as a player in 1990 and also coached his country before being hired by U.S. Soccer in 2011.
“I love Jermaine Jones, I love watching him play, and I love Fabian Johnson — and he plays in Germany and is actually killing it right now, after being sent home (from the USMNT) for ‘faking an injury,'” added Wambach, who scored a record 184 goals for her country.
“But I just think that this experiment that U.S. Soccer has given Jurgen isn’t one that, personally, I’m into.”
CNN was unable to contact U.S. Soccer for a response Wednesday, but its president Sunil Gulati told ESPN: “Abby has never been shy of speaking her mind, but today it’s best to celebrate a wonderful career and character.”
Wambach’s list of team and individual awards is endless.
In a career spanning 14 years, the 35-year-old has amassed two Olympic gold medals, one World Cup, a FIFA World Player of the Year award and six U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year crowns.
However, Wambach has made a very final cut to her career, deleting her social media accounts after tweeting “Make them forget me.”
In a video for Gatorade which uses “forget me” as a recurring motif, she says she hopes “the next generation accomplishes things so great that I’m no longer remembered.”
Wambach, meanwhile, believes the U.S. men could learn a thing or two from their female counterparts.
“Our standard is so high, and has been so high that that is the culture of this team,” she said in the Bill Simmons podcast.
“That’s the environment that it needs to be with the men’s team but they (the men) don’t have that, they don’t have that mentality that every single day is brutal, every single day is pushing yourself.
“We won the 2015 World Cup but now we have the 2016 Olympics and we still have to be better and that’s the only way you grow as a group of people and grow the game — and be the trendsetting team of the game.
However, despite her scathing criticism of Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer, she does still believe the USMNT can one day win a World Cup.
“Do I think that one day it’s possible? Yeah, I dream of that for our men’s team, I really do.”
But she was quick to return to what needs fixing by her male counterparts.
“I also think it’s an environment and it’s also an ego drop,” she said. “You know, when you get into those big-time tournaments people have to step up and play their part and play their role.
“But you also have to drop the egos and, it seems to me, there are too many egos in our men’s program right now.
“And I think the biggest ego of all of them is the one that’s leading the charge.”
Wednesday’s defeat was the Americans’ first at home since 2004, ending a 104-match unbeaten streak in the U.S.
Wang Schuang scored the only goal in the 58th minute with a deflected volley, while Wambach was substituted to a standing ovation from the 32,950 crowd in the 72nd minute.