Mark Zeigler argues, a little obliquely, that a Wambach-focused team might have stunted the development of the U.S. Women's National Team. I'll take it a step further.
Mark's argument has some solid validity, I think.
Yet I'd also say that viewpoint works under a different spin. By the very nature of a pro sports career, there's a certain Toys 'R Us (I don't wanna grow up) dynamic going on.
It's pretty obvious that in general, all pro athletes enjoy something of a Peter Pan existence. Soccer is a game, after all. They started playing as children and now they get paid to continue to do so. How many of us get paid to do something we did as kids? (Well, ok, as a kid I was writing a lot of overwrought poetry, but no, I've never been paid for that).
As long as soccer stars can still perform at a top level, though, they remain in a team structure that's in some ways similar to their development days. Coaches will always call their men's team players "boys", no matter if the squad has a plethora of over-30 veterans with gray hair and four kids apiece. "The boys did great today." "The boys stunk up the stadium today."
Coaches will often be daddy figures to their charges, with enormous authority to decide the fate of those involved with a club.
The fish bowl of a pro team structure sometimes makes it difficult for players to mature into self-sufficient adults. Instead of learning from struggling with new concepts, they're asked to focus on what they're already good at, and they are often pampered and watched over in many different ways. Fans, teammates and owners will forgive a lot of a player who can put the ball in the back of the net, so sometimes the incentive to be a decent person is actually lacking. A mean streak will often be glossed over as "toughness" and many see vanity as the accepted element of a star.
With women, a slightly different tweak on that dynamic exists. Though I can't specifically recall Pia Sundhage using the the term "girls" (she uses "players" a lot), I have heard former coaches do so, as well as a lot of the other national team level coaches. I also heard a more about "protecting" players (exhibit A: No weights are ever released for the USWNT players, apparently to avoid hurt feelings of self-consciousness).
One of the things that I believe really cramped the individual development of the U.S. women was the lack of pro play elsewhere. No one on the team played abroad. Only the college players have known anything but the USWNT structure lately. Turning the national team into a residency camp extended the sorority mentality far beyond what was healthy. The players hardly ever got a break from each other. People fell into roles and pecking orders were established without a chance to really change them. The dynamic suprise players (like Shannon Boxx emerging from WUSA play) didn't come along any longer.
The "queen bee" of the team was pretty clearly Wambach.
I guess my point is that any career has pitfalls. The trick in soccer is to try to maintain the childish love and enjoyment of the game while taking care to mature in other regards, behaving professionally and appreciating the sport. It's a balance, of course.