Lauren Cheney has won two Olympic gold medals and finished runner-up in a World Cup. She’s nearing 100 career appearances in six-plus years with the United States women’s national team and has scored 20 goals.
In other words, when she says Thursday was one of the most memorable nights of her soccer career, it carries some weight.
Cheney watched as Abby Wambach scored four goals Thursday during a 5-0 win against South Korea, becoming the United States’ all-time leading scorer in international play. Wambach netted all four prior to halftime at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., giving her 160 goals for her career, breaking a previous mark of 158 set by Mia Hamm.
“I think, especially in a game that’s so historic, watching Abby score four goals in one half to break that record, the only word that I can use is ‘incredible,’” Cheney said. “Not only are you proud to represent your country, but to see that was surreal. It was amazing to be on the field with her that night. I’ll never forget it.”
A playmaker in the FC Kansas City midfield, Cheney will especially remember the first two goals. She assisted on both of them — the second of which allowed Wambach to tie Hamm’s record — before scoring a goal of her own in the 64th minute to polish off the 5-0 victory.
“Obviously playing in a game and serving the ball in and being a part of any goal is great,” Cheney said. “But being part of Abby tying the record was so cool. I feel so lucky.”
Cheney returned to Kansas City on Friday evening with some added energy, she said, and FC Kansas City is going to need it.
After just completing a difficult stretch that included four games in 11 days, FC Kansas City will play host to Washington at 3:10 p.m. today, kick-starting a stretch of five games in the next 15 days.
This time, though, the Blues, 5-4-1, will have their full roster when they enter Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
They welcome back Cheney and three more U.S. national team players from the emotional trip, along with Lauren Sesselmann and Desiree Scott from the Canadian national team. All six players missed the previous two matches for international duties.