On July 10th, 1999…A record crowd filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California as 90,185 people witnessed the United States women’s soccer team win their second World Cup championship against China in a penalty shootout that will always be remembered.
It was 15 years ago when American Brandi Chastain scored the game-winning penalty kick to defeat China in a 5-4 shootout that brought one team to their knees, and the other onto the field celebrating and rushing toward their teammate, Chastain, who was seen twirling her jersey in front of the American crowd.
After a long 90-minutes of regulation and extra time, both teams were unable to find the back of the net. The final match headed to penalties, where the host country were crowned world champions.
Moments after scoring the winning penalty kick, Chastain said, “Momentary insanity…”I thought, ‘This is the greatest moment of my career,’ and I lost control.”
With Chastain losing control, the iconic image of her celebrating the World Cup victory found its way onto the cover of Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Newsweek. In a time when women’s sports hardly found its way onto the sports page and in a time when soccer was irrelevant in the U.S. – the women’s soccer team sent shockwaves throughout the country and the world as the final match was the largest ever for a women’s sporting event. In addition, the 40 million people who watched the game on ABC was the largest TV audience for a soccer game in America.
The 1999 U.S. women’s team started off the tournament in goal scoring fashion. After beating Denmark in the opening match, 3-0, the team continued their hot start by beating Nigeria 7-1 and North Korea, 3-0. The team cruised past the group stage and moved onto the knockout stage by beating Germany 3-2 in the quarter-finals.
With their superstar Mia Hamm, the team were considered unstoppable. In the semi-finals, the United States beat Brazil, 2-0 and in the final match against China – the team made history.
With the help of superstar Mia Hamm and the support of her teammates, the 1999 U.S. Women’s soccer team inspired a nation and sent the message that women’s athletics should not be overlooked.
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