The final Women’s World Cup of the century launched the beginning a new era of success for women’s soccer. For the first time, the tournament was expanded to 16 teams and was staged in huge stadiums across the host country, raising expectations for attendance, media coverage and television audiences; expectations which were reached, surpassed and then crushed.
The U.S. captured its second Women’s World Cup Championship while thrilling a nation and becoming the story of the year. The team played in front of packed houses across the country, beginning with a crowd of 78,000-plus at Giants Stadium cheering the team to a 3-0 tournament opening victory over Denmark. The victory set a tone for the entire tournament. After fighting their way into the final with five victories, which included a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Germany in the quarterfinals and a nail-biting 2-0 victory over Brazil in the semifinals, the U.S. battled China for a grueling 120 minutes before pulling out a breathtaking 5-4 penalty kick victory in the finals in front of a sell-out crowd of 90,125 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 10.
After a scoreless 90 minutes of regulation, China appeared to get the winner in the first 15-minutes of sudden-death overtime, but midfielder Kristine Lilly jumped high to head a shot clear of the goal. That save would lead to goalkeeper Briana Scurry and defender Brandi Chastain becoming heroes during the penalty kick tiebreaker. Scurry leaped off her line to save China’s third shot, allowing Chastain to slam home the game-winning penalty kick goal. With the championship, the U.S. became the first nation to win the Women’s World Cup on its home soil.
1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Awards
Sun Wen (China PR)
Michelle Akers (USA)
Sun Wen (China PR), 7 Goals
Sissi (Brazil), 7 Goals
Ann Kristen Aarones (Norway), 4 Goals