US SoccerUS Soccer

Scurry Save & Perfect PKs Secure Cup for U.S. Women

PASADENA, Calif. (Saturday, July 10, 1999) - After 120 minutes of intense, scoreless soccer, the United States defeated China on the fifth shot of a penalty kick shoot-out to win their second FIFA Women's World Cup title before a record crowd at the Rose Bowl. The difference in the 5-4 shootout came on China's third shot when U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry dove to the right to save an attempt by Liu Ying. After the next two players on each side converted their opportunities, Brandi Chastain lined up for the potentially championship-winning kick. She scored past Gao Hong to end the tournament.

The shootout began with China shooting first. Xie Huilin stepped to the line to take the first shot and scored to the left side of the goal. Carla Overbeck took the U.S.'s first shot and also scored, beating Gao to the right side of the goal. With the score knotted at one, Qiu Haiyan beat Scurry to move ahead, 2-1, but Joy Fawcett answered to even the score again. China's third shot, by Liu Ying, was to the right side of the goal Scurry anticipated well and saved the attempt, sending off a chorus of loud applause from the largely pro-American crowd of 90,185 fans. The save took some pressure off the United States and brought them an increased level of confidence. Kristine Lilly stepped forward to take the next attempt for the hosts and found the left side of the net to give the United States its first lead of the shootout. Zhang Ouying of China and U.S. forward Mia Hamm traded goals, bringing Sun Wen to the spot for China, needing a goal to keep her team's hopes alive. She beat Scurry to the left, setting the stage for Chastain's dramatic winning score.

The game opened with both teams playing with controlled agression as they pushed forward and attacked but were careful not to expose themselves to counterattack. The United States had some early opportunities and, while China pressured the American defense, it did not test goalkeeper Briana Scurry with any shots on goal in the first half. In the eighth minute, Cindy Parlow was fouled inside the offensive third of the field, giving Mia Hamm a free kick from about 30 yards from goal on the left side. Hamm passed the ball to the far post where Michelle Akers' sliding touch of the ball sent it over the endline, wide of the goal. In the twelfth minute it was again Akers who put pressure on the Chinese defense, this time with a powerful blast from far from goal that was saved by Gao Hong. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first half and went into the break with a scoreless match still intact. Despite continued attacking play in the second half, still no goals were scored and the game was sent into golden goal overtime when regulation ended. In the closing seconds of regulation, Michelle Akers was injured in front of the U.S. goal as her team cleared the ball from a Chinese attack. Sara Whalen entered the match for her when overtime began. China nearly ended the game when Fan Yunjie headed a corner kick onto goal. U.S. 'keeper Briana Scurry had no chance to save the shot, but Kristine Lilly was positioned perfectly to clear the ball off the line. Play in overtime was intense, as both teams pushed for the winning goal, but several players were noticably fatigued after playing all afternoon under the hot California sun.

The game drew 90,185 fans to the Rose Bowl, far surpassing the record attendance for a women's sporting event, set three weeks ago with the opening ceremonies doubleheader at Giants Stadium. The 78,972 fans that attended the matches that day between the United States and Denmark and Brazil vs. Mexico broke the previous record held by the 1996 Olympics women's occer medal-round doubleheader.

The penalty kick final was the third consecutive FIFA World Cup championship round match at the Rose Bowl that ended scoreless in regulation. The 1994 World Cup final (men's) ended in a scoreless tie before Brazil emerged the champion, defeating Italy on penalty kicks. Earlier in the day on Saturday, Brazil defeated Norway on penalty kicks to take third place in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.

This was the fourth meeting of 1999 between the United States and China. All three prior matches were decided by a lone goal, and twice the winning goal game after the 90th minute. Twice in one week this April, the teams entered stoppage time with the score tied at one and each time the result was a 2-1 final score. On April 22 in Hershey, Pa., Tisha Venturini scored the winner for the United States in 92nd minute. Three days later at Giants Stadium, China struck the fatal blow to the Americans in the 93rd minute when Zhang Ouying -- an 82nd minute substitute -- got behind the U.S. defense, out-running Christie Pearce and Carla Overbeck to slot her shot into the left corner. China's win ended a 50-game domestic unbeaten streak for the U.S. that stretched back to Feb. 4, 1996, and a 2-1 loss to Norway in Jacksonville, Florida. The streak included two draws (with China and Germany) and 48 wins. With this result, 16 of 22 all-time meetings between these team have been decided by a goal or less.