NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Welcome in to Juan's World, where for the past 24 hours, I've been pondering this thought: It's a bit ironic that New Orleans, party capital of the USA, will host a going away party for one of soccer's biggest names Wednesday night.
Abby Wambach, scorer of numerous goals in her illustrious international career with the women's national team, will close the curtain on her amazing soccer career here in New Orleans. Not in the Rose Bowl, not in Giants Stadium - the site of their two most attended games in the past. But, in the Superdome, which has barely been a blip on the international soccer radar. Heck, the last time the Dome hosted a soccer game? Nearly 30 years ago.
So why now? Well, you can thank Lauren Holiday for this opportunity. The World Cup winner also retired recently and has begun to settle in with her husband, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. So much so that when she began pitching the Crescent City as a potential host, she referred to it as her hometown - which is understandable, because as all of us transplants know, yours truly included, once you come to New Orleans it's so hard to up and leave.
It took having someone on the inside to get U.S. soccer to open their eyes to what New Orleans could offer as a host of the World Cup winners. Turns out, we have now become the culmination of a tour well done by Team USA.
And what better place to hold Wambach's official retirement party than in a city that can throw a party with the best of them?
What are we celebrating with Wambach? Well, she's played in four Women's World Cup tournaments. She's won two Olympic gold medals. She's Team USA's all-time leading scorer in both World Cup and Olympic competition. She's been named U.S. soccer's female player of the year six times, which is more than any other player before her. And when Wambach's on the field, the U.S. rarely loses, 116 wins and just two losses.
Wambach has been a special player. She'll forever be mentioned in the same sentence as Mia Hamm, who set the standard for women's soccer around the world.
And on Wednesday, we'll celebrate her accomplishments. We'll celebrate all that she's meant to the game, in the United States and globally.
We will see soccer moms and dads in the Dome, eager to get one last glimpse of one of the greats of U.S. soccer because some day, their kids can tell their own kids that "Hey, I saw Abby play and she was amazing.'
Abby Wambach is retiring. She's calling it quits on a career that's spanned more than a decade and she's going to do it in our city, in our Dome. It doesn't get any cooler than that.
Mary Abigail Wambach, we, the City of New Orleans, salute you and can't wait to give you a proper second line send-off Wednesday night. I know I wouldn't miss it for the world.