Abby Wambach created a stir on Wednesday prior to her farewell match when answering a question on Bill Simmons's podcast regarding the U.S. men's national team, and two with ties to the squad have responded.
Retired U.S. men's national team icon Landon Donovan and current U.S. midfielder Mix Diskerud were among those to weigh in on the topic, with Diskerud posting a pointed message on his Instagram feed in response to Wambach's remarks.
In answering a question about how she'd fix the U.S. men's team, Wambach said she would fire manager Jurgen Klinsmann. When elaborating, she pointed to his use of "foreign guys" as one reason why, presumably meaning his reliance on dual-nationals who haven't necessarily come up through the U.S. system.
"The way that he has changed and brought in these foreign guys, it’s just not something that I believe in," Wambach said.
The U.S. has a number of dual-nationals on the team and has for some time, with managers preceding Klinsmann recruiting talent that wasn't born in the U.S. as well. Diskerud, a Norwegian-American born in Oslo, said:
Wow Abby, I guess there are pros and cons in limiting the base for selection. You have just singled out a few of us. But why? Why are we your single oddballs? Think about who you try to disenfranchise. Because if you see us as the group to disenfranchise, then at least let it be known who we are. Stats and history will show - "our group" has more than others produced volunteer and defending soldiers for what, by us, is willingly chosen and gathered to be worth protecting: Your nation. Wish you would accept it as ours too. I know we're not quite equal. From "your group of people" the country's Commander in Chief need to be selected. However, other than that - you and I share something not unique, but constitutionally earned, a birthright to defend this nation as an American. Wherever we go. Led by whoever has earned, by democratic process, his/her right to lead, on or off the field, in peace, in war, in practice, or in any other kind of pursuit of your happiness. Enjoy your retirement. But stay active. We all need you. Oddballs or not. Mix
Donovan, meanwhile, appeared on former U.S. forward Eric Wynalda's Sirius XM radio show and offered his opinion.
"I wouldn't feel as good about it if we had a team full of players that didn't really grow up or didn't really identify as being American," Donovan said. "It's nothing against them. Fabian Johnson is as good a player as there is maybe in the Bundesliga right now and I love him and he's a nice kid. I love Jermaine (Jones), really nice kids and they're good teammates and I like having them on the team. But if we had a team full of players like that it just wouldn't feel the same as if we developed a team then that went on and won a World Cup. There's just something more special about all of us being a part of it and growing it and building it. If it's win at all costs, that's fine, but in my opinion it's not win at all costs, it's win in a way that makes us feel proud of it."
Donovan also said that he told Klinsmann, when he was cut from the 2014 World Cup team, that, "There's at least a few players that are on your World Cup roster that are going that don't care in the same way that I do. I grew up as a part of this whole system. I feel like it is a part of me and I think there's players in that locker room who if you go three and out in the World Cup they'll go back to their club teams and won't even blink twice, whereas if we go three and out I'll be devastated and I think that's a piece that's important."
His full comments can be heard below:
Wambach played in the final game of her storied career, with the U.S. losing to China 1-0. Wambach finished her U.S. career with 255 caps and an international-record 184 goals.