Twenty years after the Rose Bowl hosted one of the most memorable moments in American sports history, the United States women’s national team is returning to Pasadena.
On July 10, 1999, the U.S and China battled through 90 minutes of regulation play and then another half hour of extra-time before entering a penalty shootout to decide the World Cup final. Then, with the score tied 4-4, Brandi Chastain stepped up to the spot—12 yards from goal—with a chance to win the game.
Chastain converted her chance, firing a left-footed effort into the top-right corner, sealing the win for the U.S. women, and famously ripping off her jersey in a frenzied celebration.
On August 3, the U.S. women return to the Rose Bowl as part of its Victory Tour, this time celebrating yet another World Cup championship—the 2019 title won this summer in France. To this day, the stadium remains hallowed ground for the players of the United States women’s national team—and yes, tickets are still available for this friendly against Ireland. As an added bonus, fans can watch a public training session at the Rose Bowl from 5-6 p.m. August 2. Admission (Gate B) and parking (Lot F) are both free.
“It’s kind of this sacred place,” said Sam Mewis, a UCLA alumna who finished the 2019 World Cup with two goals and four assists. “The 99ers made history there and I get chills thinking about that moment that they had when Brandi Chastain took her shirt off and they won.
“It’s such an honor that we get to play there and that we were able to follow in the footsteps of such an iconic moment. Twenty years later we won again, so it’s incredible and we’re really excited to get out there and play in front of a lot of fans.”
“I think it’s amazing,” added Abby Dahlkemper, a native of Menlo Park and UCLA alumna who started all seven matches for the U.S. team this summer in France. “It’s obviously a full circle, coming from the 99ers and them winning a World Cup final there.
“Being able to be back there 20 years later is really special and I think it’ll be a special game and it’ll be really fun. Hopefully, we can get a sellout and ride this wave.”
Julie Ertz, who started six games for the U.S. in the 2019 World Cup, played her college soccer at Santa Clara University, where Chastain is an assistant coach. The two have remained close ever since and Ertz said it really “hit home” when U.S. Soccer announced that the first Victory Tour game would be played at the Rose Bowl.
Ertz also recognizes how important these types of games are for future generations of players and noted that current U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher—then 11 years old—was in the stands at the Rose Bowl that famous day in 1999.
“The whole full circle thing is really cool,” said Ertz. “It’s kind of emotional in and of itself. It’s really cool to be a part of. For Alyssa, who was there in the stands that day, to think that there could be someone in those stands [in August] that this could also happen to in 20 years is a cool thought.”
Also cool: There are a million things to do before and after the game—both for the triumphant players and the thousands of fans who will flock to see them. From great restaurants and iconic attractions to cutting-edge musems and innovative theme parks, it's always fun to play in the Los Angeles area.
For years, Los Angeles County has acted as a home away from home for many U.S. players. The team regularly holds camps in Carson, where the U.S. Soccer maintains its national team training center at Dignity Health Sports Park—also home to the L.A. Galaxy.
“When we’re in camp [in Carson], it’s fun to be in an area where it’s nice outside, there’s things to do,” said Mewis. “We like to go to the beach and a lot of us feel at home there. I have some of those home ties because I’ve spent so much time there. Being out in Southern California is awesome and I’m excited that we get to go there for the Victory Tour.”
Menlo Park native Tierna Davidson, the youngest U.S. player on this summer’s World Cup roster, keeps her advice for travelers simple: “Go to the beach,” said Davidson. “You can’t go to California and not go to the beach.”