US SoccerUS Soccer

Remembering '99: Rebecca Moros

In 1999 I turned 14 years old, and like many young girls in America, I was in love with soccer, idolized Mia Hamm and the entire U.S. Women’s National Team, and was captivated by the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Not only that, but I was one of the lucky ones. I had the privilege of attending the opening game of the tournament live at Giants Stadium. It was the most incredible sporting event in women’s sports history, and on opening day Giants Stadium was rocking. Having never been to any sporting event of that magnitude, I was in total amazement as I shared the stands with 78,971 other people. As a fan, I’ve never felt greater anticipation than I felt on that day.

I have to admit, the ’99 World Cup fell at a perfect time in my soccer development. A few years later and I would have watched like most mature spectators. I wouldn’t have felt the magic associated with my big dreams and innocent eyes. On the other hand, a few years earlier I would have been too young. I wouldn’t have known every player by name, or where they went to college, how old they were, what position they played, or any of the other details I garnered from media guides, newspapers, etc. But by 1999, I knew that Mia Hamm was already one of the most prolific goal scorers of all time. I knew that Michelle Akers was the most veteran player on the team. I knew that Carla Overbeck was the heart and soul of the back line. I knew Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly made up the engine that ran the midfield. And I knew that Briana Scurry was the most dominant goalkeeper in the world, and if I didn’t know it at the start of the tournament, like everyone else who watched or read the papers I certainly knew it by the end.

For those three weeks, from June 19th to July 10th, the US Women’s National Team captivated the American public battling its way to the final match. On July 10th, with 90,185 people watching live and millions more on television (me included), they defeated China five goals to four in a penalty kick shootout. On that day they made history. They set the stage for the first women’s professional soccer league in America, and they changed the lives of millions of little girls everywhere. I can’t begin to tell you what the ’99 World Cup meant to me. To really understand, you’d have to go back in time. You’d have to see me watching in my basement by myself. You’d see me pacing back and forth throughout the entire second half, both overtimes, and into the penalty kick shootout. You’d see me mimicking the players as Overbeck, Fawcett, Lilly, Hamm, and Chastain each scored their penalty kicks. You’d see me crouched to make the crucial, game-winning save Scurry made when she denied China’s fourth shooter. Then you’d see me in tears as the U.S.’s victory was realized.

To this day, I can still feel the excitement when I think back to that final game. It’s hard for me to remember specific plays. I can’t recall how each goal was scored, or each tackle made, or any other detail, but what I do remember is the feeling. On that day, I fell deeper in love with soccer. And since then I have had many of the most important moments in my life come to me through soccer. I will always be grateful to the US Women’s National Team that changed the sport forever, played on the biggest stage in women’s sports history, and gave me role models and heroes to grow towards. The ’99 World Cup was truly a peak moment in my life and in all sports history.

Rebecca Moros is a midfielder with the Washington Freedom.