Remembering '99: Tiffeny Milbrett
Seems that everyone has a story about where they were on the day of the final. One person said they were on a family camping trip and stopped into a bar in the "middle of nowhere" to watch. Another said that they were with their team huddled around the TV. Others have said that they were the luckiest people alive because they were in that Rose Bowl stadium. For me, and my teammates, it was just another day at the office. You know, driving to the stadium through throngs of people. Warming up in the tunnel in running shoes because the 3rd place game was going on. Getting ready to play in front of 90,000 people. Having military jets fly by during while Hanson (singing group) sang the anthem, and then, simply winning a soccer game.
What I can remember most about the whole World Cup was the growing interest in the tournament. To hearing that the World Cup final in the Rose Bowl had sold out about a year out, and that most of our USA matches were already sold out about 6 months leading up the cup, to the rising interest in the fan fervor, and the growing media interest was just something we had never encountered before. Every day that went by, and every game we played was attracting more and more attention. Crazy attention! I thought that there was no way in my lifetime that a World Cup would ever surpass an Olympic Games in terms of attention and interest paid to our team, but I for sure was wrong. That World Cup was the most important tournament I have ever played in, and the largest ever watched on TV and in the stands.
We had already kicked off the tournament in front of 79,000 at Giants Stadium vs. Denmark. Then it was another sellout, then another, then another. A grueling quarterfinal vs. Germany where we came from behind to beat them, and then we beat Brazil in the semi's. We were through to the finals. Just the way it had to be. In LA, it became a gong-show. Literally, over 2,000 people came to just attend our practices. Police escorts, security badges, eye scans, code names, you name it! We were experiencing something like we never have before. Truly amazing how much the silly little USA national team had moved a nation.
Michelle Akers and I would laugh every time we stepped off the bus. Our funny line was that, "now we know how zoo animals feel." Really, every movement by us someone was going, "oh, did you see so and move?" "oh, look over there, she's coughing." "aggh, that person just yawned." It was if we were in the glass cage, the tiger pen, the elephants' area because so many people came to see, and look, and watch, and marvel over our team.
I will never forget how special our team became.
Tiffeny Milbrett is a forward for the FC Gold Pride and was a member of the 1999 World Cup champion U.S. team.