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Abby Wambach to get hero's welcome home Wednesday


7/18/2011

Jeff DiVeronica

Democrat and Chronicle

Star forward Abby Wambach and the United States soccer team didn’t win the World Cup on Sunday, but the Pittsford native is expected to receive a hero’s welcome home on Wednesday. 

MVP Healthcare, one of her sponsors, has scheduled a fan rally with fans at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Eastview Mall in Victor with two of Wambach’s American teammates: forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Megan Rapinoe. 

Another player might also join then, said Penny Vavura of MVP Healthcare, but she wasn’t sure who yet. The fan rally is expected to start at 2 p.m. after the players do interviews with media. 

The trio is traveling today from Germany, where the U.S. lost Sunday’s final, 3-1, on penalty kicks to Japan. On Wednesday night, Wambach, Morgan and Rapinoe will likely be at Sahlen’s Stadium in downtown Rochester for a Women’s Professional Soccer match between magicJack and the Western New York Flash. 

Wambach and Rapinoe are on magicJack; Morgan plays for the Flash. 

Ticket sales for Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. match (gates open at 6:30 p.m.) have already topped 10,000 and the Rochester Rhinos, who run the Sahlen’s Stadium, are planning to bring in bleachers to increase capacity, which is about 13,000. Rhinos President Pat Ercoli said Wambachs are working with the Flash, who are based in Buffalo but play home matches in Rochester, on obtaining tickets for Abby’s large family. 

The first 1,000 fans through the gates will get Abby bobbleheads. 

Wambach led the Americans with four goals in the World Cup and Morgan had a goal and assist on Sunday. Rapinoe assisted on Morgan’s goal. She also assisted on Wambach’s memorable goal in the quarterfinals against Brazil that tied the match in the 122nd minute. 

Before returning to Rochester, Wambach and goalkeeper Hope Solo are scheduled to be on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York City on Tuesday night. Monroe County officials are also planning to issue a proclamation making Wednesday “Abby Wambach Day.” 

In addition to Wambach and Solo, five other players for magicJack (5-4-1), formerly called the Washington Freedom, were on the United States’ World Cup roster: midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Shannon Boxx, defenders Christie Rampone and Becky Sauerbrunn and backup goalie Jill Loyden. 

It’s unknown which will be in Rochester for the match. 

Players have a 48-hour transfer release window to report back to their club teams after international duty unless other arrangements are made through their country’s soccer federation. Then it’s up to the club team on how to use its players. Dan Borislow, owner of magicJack, could not be reached for comment today. 

The Flash (7-2-2) topped magicJack, 3-0, on May 22 in Rochester in a battle of WPS unbeatens that attracted a crowd of 8,076, the second-highest in the 3-year-old league’s history. The record for a stand-alone WPS match is 14,832 for the league’s inaugural game in 2009 between the Los Angeles Sol (with Brazilian star Marta) and Wambach’s Washington Freedom club at Home Depot Center in Carson City, Calif. 

Marta, whose Brazilian squad was eliminated by the U.S. in the World Cup quarterfinals on penalty kicks, is expected to make her return to the Flash on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s 2-0 win at Sky Blue FC in New Jersey due to what coach Aaran Lines called “unforeseen immigration issues.” 

Forward Christine Sinclair, who is Canada’s all-time leading scorer, with 117 goals, also stars for the Flash .