Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 July 1999 - The US Women Take Two

On 10 July 1999, the United States women won their second World Cup, beating China on penalties and setting an attendance record in the process.

The two teams had grown familiar with one another, meeting three times over the previous five years in the World Cup and the Olympics. The first two of those ended as group-stage draws (3-3 in the 1995 World Cup and 0-0 in the 1996 Summer Olympics). The third was the Olympic Final, which the US won 2-1.

In the 1999 World Cup, they were two of only three teams to emerge from the group stage with wins in all of their matches (Norway was the other). China then beat Norway and Russia to reach the Final, while the US advanced with wins over Germany and Brazil.

They met at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where a crowd of 90,185 gathered to watch (they were treated to the third-place match as a warm-up, with Brazil beating Norway on penalties). It remains the largest audience ever for a women's-only sporting event.

The teams battled to a scoreless draw through extra-time to send to match to a penalty shootout. There, each team made their first two kicks before US goalkeeper Brianna Scurry stopped China's third shot, taken by Liu Ying, who had come on as a substitute for the shootout.

After two more kicks each, the score was level at 4-4 with the US's fifth shooter, back Brandi Chastain (pictured), still to come. She drove the ball high to the keeper's left and into the net for the victory, then stripped off and her shirt and dropped to her knees in her black sports bra in what became the iconic image of the tournament.

The two teams met again in the 2000 Summer Olympics group stage, playing to another draw (1-1).

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