Twelve years. It has been 12 years since over 90,000 people filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to watch an epic battle between the United States and China.
The last image of the 1999 Women’s World Cup was of Brandi Chastain ripping off her jersey and falling to her knees in joy. Chastain in nothing but a sports bra and her shorts as she celebrated making the winning penalty kick.
That U.S. team was filled with women who became role models and heroes to a generation of little girls and young women. Names like Chastain, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm were what that generation wanted to be like.
It wasn’t just women who noticed the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team. Men took notice as well. Men realized the brand of soccer played by the women was just as good as the men’s soccer.
The nation lost sight of women’s soccer since 1999. While the U.S. women finished third in both 2003 and 2007, mainstream media and everyone else forgot about them.
To be fair, it did not help that the 2003 Women’s World Cup was abruptly moved to the U.S. because of a SARS outbreak in China in October. That left the women to be swallowed up by college and pro football.
Again in 2007, the women were in China and playing against the NFL and college football since the tournament was held in September. The stars from the 1999 Women’s World Cup were all gone from the USWNT in 2007 as well.
Twelve years in the sports world is a long time. With four years between World Cup and Olympic games, 12 years end a career.
A lot has changed in sports since 1999.