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U.S. women's home win streak ends in Abby Wambach's last game

U.S. women's home win streak ends in Abby Wambach's last game
U.S. forward Abby Wambach reacts during a presentation for her final game before the team's international friendly soccer match against China in New Orleans. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Abby Wambach walked off the field for the final time like a rock star — mic drop and all.

It sounded as if she was ready to party like one too.

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She wasn't able to leave with a victory in her final game with the U.S. national team. But China's 1-0 victory on Wednesday night in New Orleans wasn't going to diminish the triumphant nature of her extraordinary career.

Wambach said her teammates apologized profusely to her afterward, but she told them, "There's nothing to be sorry about. Today wasn't about getting a result."

Wambach played into the 72nd minute, managing two threatening headers and a shot from inside the penalty area before subbing out of a match for the final time.

"It's kind of symbolic; I get 70 minutes and we don't score a goal," Wambach said, alluding to why it's time for her, at 35, to retire.

The career leader in international play — for men and women, with 184 goals — kicked off her cleats and hugged each teammate on the field before walking to the bench, smiling, to embrace her coaches and remaining teammates as the crowd chanted her name.

"I love this team," Wambach said in comments delivered on the field to fans after the game. "It has been my pleasure and my honor to represent you all, the fans, for as long as I've been able to. … The future is so bright. These women are going to kill it."

And she made it clear that, despite the loss, it was time to celebrate, saying, "Bourbon Street, watch out," before dropping the microphone on the field and walking off alone as her teammates waited behind, applauding with the rest of the crowd.

China scored in the 58th minute, when forward Wang Shuang volleyed in a bounding cross from Wang Shanshan.

The U.S. had gone 104 home games without losing since falling to Denmark in 2004.

Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm started in that 3-1 loss Denmark in Philadelphia, and Wambach came in as a sub. The U.S. women had gone 92-0-12 since.

A festive crowd of nearly 33,000 acknowledged Wambach at seemingly every opportunity.

Platini to boycott, Blatter to attend ethics hearing

Fighting for their careers in soccer politics, Michel Platini plans to boycott his hearing at the FIFA ethics court on Friday while Sepp Blatter is expected to attend his on Thursday in Zurich, Switzerland.

Platini is protesting the hearing because he believes his case has been prejudged, his lawyers said Wednesday in a statement.

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Although FIFA investigators have asked for a life ban, Platini could escape with a ban of several years — a result that would still effectively exile him and end his FIFA presidential ambitions.

"By this decision Michel Platini means to express his deepest indignation with a process he regards as solely political and intended to prevent him from standing for the FIFA presidency," the former France great's lawyers said.

The case centers on Platini getting about $2 million from FIFA in 2011 as uncontracted salary for his time working as a presidential advisor for Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

The agreement was "a classic conflict of interest" between two FIFA executive committee members, FIFA audit panel chairman Domenico Scala told the Associated Press in a recent interview.

Because of the deal, both Blatter and Platini were banned for 90 days on Oct. 8.

Verdicts on Platini and Blatter are expected next Monday or Tuesday. Any sanctions can be challenged at the FIFA appeals committee and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The cases are expected to be resolved by late January, at least one month before the FIFA election on Feb. 26.

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