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Wambach, Sundhage capture FIFA honors

The SportsXchange

The world soccer community came up with a different verdict the United States soccer federation when it came to choosing the best female player in the world in 2012.

Either way, a U.S. forward was destined for the award.

Abby Wambach beat teammate Alex Morgan in voting for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. Morgan previously was selected U.S. Soccer's Female Athlete of the Year.

Morgan placed third in the FIFA voting behind Brazil's Marta.

Former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage was selected the FIFA Women's World Coach of the Year, winning in a close vote over Japan's Norio Sasaki. Sundhage left the U.S. team following the Olympics to take over as coach of the women's national team in her home country, Sweden.

Both Wambach and Morgan were integral in helping the U.S. team capture the gold medal at the London Olympics. Wambach scored in each of the first five games at the Olympics, only getting held off the score sheet in the gold-medal victory over Japan. Wambach, 32, finished the year with 27 goals. She needs seven more to break the all-time women's international record of 158, held by Mia Hamm.

"I'm very, very surprised," Wambach said, according to U.S. Soccer. "Individual honors only happen if you have great teams and great people who have given you the chance to be here. Not only do I think Marta and Alex could have won, but many other players could have been here as well."

Before Monday, Hamm was the only other American to win the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, capturing the honor in 2001 and 2002.

Morgan, 23, ended 2012 with 28 goals and 21 assists.

Under Sundhage, the U.S. team went 23-1-1 in 2012, 91-6-10 in her five seasons on the bench.

Wambach and Sundhage both received their awards in Zurich, Switzerland, where Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi came away with the FIFA Ballon d'Or, which goes to the men's player of the year. Messi won for a record fourth time -- and for the fourth year in a row.
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