One man's view of the 99'ers
ESPN is debuting the eighth of its women's sports-related "Nine for IX " tonight with the opening of "The 99'ers." The hour-long documtary reviews the impact of the 1999 US Women's soccer team who won the Women's World Cup. The 1999 tournament was played in the United States, with the final in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
However, the success of the 1999 women's team owes itself in part to something that happened five years ago-- also in the Rose Bowl. That was the 1994 men's World Cup Final, where Italy and Brazil went to a penalty shootout before Brazil won it. The U-S also hosted that World Cup; that was the turning point for soccer in the U.S. Over 94-thousand attended the final, while hundreds of thousands more attended other games in other venues. The 1994 World Cup success in the U.S. set the scene for the women's triumph five years later.
In most of the world, women's soccer is ignored. Most of the time, America ignores it too. But the '99ers were a team loaded with talent, charisma, and possibly the best soccer player ever in Mia Hamm. The Americans tore through the tournament, before facing China in the final. China almost won the game in extra time, with a ball that eluded goalkeeper Brianna Scurry, and was cleared off the line by the U-S defense. IN the shootout, Scurry made a brilliant penalty save, before Brandi Chastain ended it with her penalty success. Afterward, she showed off the most famous training bra in history, after ripping off her jersey on the field
Charisma, talent, success-- that was the '99ers. Tonight's "Nine for IX" is definitely worth your time. The '99ers struck gold-- and became one of the sports stories that come from nowhere, and made its players national icons. Not to mention, their success has fueled some success on the men's side as well.
That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.