Alex Morgan has the Times Square billboard and the photo spread in Sports Illustrated. Megan Rapinoe is the orchestrator of the goal celebrations. And Hope Solo is, well, the ever outspoken Hope Solo.
But it is veteran forward Abby Wambach -- who burst onto the scene with the Washington Freedom a decade ago -- who remains the driving force behind the U.S. women's national team's Olympic ambitions.
She has scored a goal in each of the U.S. matches so far, tied for the most in the tournament with Canada's Melissa Tancredi. That sets up one of two individual subplots to Monday's semifinal against Canada at Manchester United's Old Trafford. The other is a race with 29-year-old Canadian forward Christine Sinclair to overtake Mia Hamm's 158 international goals. Wambach has 142. Sinclair, with three Olympic goals this summer, has 140.
It won't be a matter of whether that record will fall but when. Wambach told reporters Sunday that at age 32, with the help of some new remedies for nagging Achilles problems, she's as healthy as she has been in years and is talking about playing in the next Olympics in four years.
It's not as if her time has come and gone. Look no further than her own photo shoot for ESPN the Magazine's body issue for proof that she's in shape. It was merely last summer that her courageous and stunning overtime goal against Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals captured America's hearts.
In this Olympics, she has played all but 12 minutes despite only two days between games. Her partnership with the speedy and technically gifted Morgan has been a consistent bright spot when at times midfield creativity has been lacking and openings have appeared in the defense. She took a sucker punch to the eye against Colombia. There's also the issue of Solo's Twitter habits; Wambach, the team captain, helped to quash that subject.
But most importantly, the Olympics are unfinished business. Wambach missed Beijing four years ago after suffering a broken leg in the final Olympic tuneup. On Monday, she's sure to throw her body around in usual fashion to defend an 11-year unbeaten streak against her North American neighbors and get the U.S. to the gold-medal match.
- Craig Stouffer