Millions of Americans have their own stories from the '99 Women's World Cup. People like David Knies of Scituate, Mass., who was on a plane from San Francisco to Taipei during the U.S.- China final, roaring with his countrymen, amid the Chinese passengers' stunned silence, when the pilot announced the Americans' victory; Jerry Acciaioli of Rochester Hills, Mich., who huddled around a transistor radio with two dozen strangers on California's Venice Beach, cheering the winning penalty kick; and the Reverend Bob Disher of Burlington, N.C., who instructed his parishioners at a Saturday service to please, please not tell him the score of the final, because he was taping the game at home.
The four vignettes that follow give us a glimpse into the emotions stirred by the U.S. team. They offer one more unshakable argument for naming the players SI's Sportswomen of the Year.
It was a simple gesture, really, nothing more than the choice of white nylon instead of flannel or a tie-dyed T-shirt. But when Trey Anastasio, the lead singer of Phish—a latter-day version of the Grateful Dead—wore a Mia Hamm number 9 jersey onstage at a concert in Atlanta on July 3, the implication was clear: The U.S. women hadn't just won over mainstream American culture; they had won over the counterculture, too.
"We did a three-night stand in Barcelona during the men's World Cup [in '98], and we got pretty caught up in that, so we started watching the women's games backstage," Anastasio explains. "For the final we made sure there was a big-screen TV in the crew lounge. The room [in Camden, N.J.] kept filling up as the game went on. Let me tell you, there was a pretty big whoop when [Briana] Scurry made the save."
Understand, this wasn't Hootie & the Blowfish cozying up to Dan Marino just to land him as a guest in their next video. No, this was the male leader of a posthippie, anticommercial band donning a women's soccer jersey. "There was a lot of pride in seeing the American women compete like that," Anastasio says. "I have two daughters [Eliza, left, and Isabella], and it makes me happy that this is the world they're growing up in, you know?"