Pasadena, California — It was at the same pitch that Brandi Chastain made history. She slotted home the game-winning penalty kick of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup against China. Just like that, Chastain ran toward the corner flag, taking her shirt off and holding her fists in the air.
It’s an image that remains in the minds of all U.S. Soccer fans.
Now, 20 years later, there’s a whole new wave of history being made. Just a few short weeks ago, the U.S. Women’s National Team claimed their fourth-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup title over the Netherlands. Meanwhile, they’re celebrating that victory and all the moments that led up to it with a five-match Victory Tour.
The number of games went down, due to helping the NWSL gain exposure. The former 10 games saw the players leave their clubs during crucial moments. However, U.S. Soccer dropped the ball on scheduling the first match on Saturday, as there were NWSL games in progress. Meanwhile, the next four matches are in FIFA calendar windows.
Ireland was the first opponent to face the USWNT. The Irish did not make this summer’s tournament, as they could not qualify in a tough UEFA conference. However, with news that the World Cup is expanding to 32 teams in 2023, there’s a chance they can make it. They have never qualified for a World Cup.
Meanwhile, they also haven’t ever produced a win over the United States. That remained the same on Saturday. Tobin Heath found the opening goal in the 16th minute, off an assist from Christen Press. Of note, Heath was a late game-time switch, as Mallory Pugh was supposed to start up top.
In the 31st minute, Lindsey Horan found the back of Marie Hourihan’s net, off an assist from fellow midfielder Sam Mewis. However, scoring ended in the first half, with Carli Lloyd notching the game-winning goal in the 41st minute.
What the USWNT manager said
Jill Ellis only has a few more matches left as head coach of the USWNT.
The back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup winning coach announced that she will step down after the Victory Tour. However, Ellis is optimistic about the future of U.S. Soccer and the team itself. Ellis said that coming to the historic Rose Bowl was wonderful.
“I said to the players, ‘Let’s really make sure we enjoy this,'” Ellis said to reporters after the match. “You keep it simple on nights like this, in terms of messaging. You get where they are in their season and coming off such a high. The atmosphere was great, the fans were great… It was a really special evening.”
Ellis also alluded to her decision to retire. When asked about why this is the right time to step away, Ellis smiled and said she’s excited for a new chapter and helping with a U.S. Soccer ambassador role.
“It’s a cycle,” Ellis said. “To do two World Cups, it’s a start cycle and finishing cycle. In terms of the program and developing the program with a new coach, having them go through the Olympics before a World Cup gives them time to build their team. On a personal level, it was time. I love change, I embrace change. I could’ve stayed in some places a lot longer, but that’s just part of who I am.”
Ellis has four more matches in charge of the USWNT.
The rest of the Victory Tour is highlighted below.
- USWNT vs. Portugal in Philadelphia on Aug. 29.
- USWNT vs. Portugal in St. Paul on Sept. 3.
- USWNT vs. South Korea in Charlotte on Oct. 3.
- USWNT vs. South Korea in Chicago on Oct. 6.