Brandi Chastain

It is one of the most iconic moments in sports history. Brandi Chastain netted the game-winning goal in the fifth round of penalty kicks at 1999 Women's World Cup Final.

But what if she missed?

Brandi Chastain

"Well, I'm glad I don't really have to think about that," Chastain says. "I think what happens potentially is we don't talk about women's soccer the way we are now. We don't have the millions of girls sign up for the first time post-'99 and maybe the player pool is smaller."

In addition to 90,185 fans at the Rose Bowl, an estimated 40 million people tuned in for at least part of ABC's broadcast as the U.S. defeated China.

If that circumstance was not enough to popularize women's soccer, there was Chastain's ripping off her shirt to reveal her sports bra and killer abs. What if she hadn't celebrated like that?

"Then I don't have to continue to do sit-ups the rest of my life," Chastain says with a chuckle. "I'd hope that if it didn't happen, it'll still be the same. I think what happened in that moment is it gave people an honest view that it was OK to be female and to celebrate and be passionate about what you're doing."

Brandi Chastain ESPN

Chastain, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and others became household names overnight. In 2000, the Women's United Soccer Association became the world's first women's professional soccer league. (It folded in 2003, but two leagues have sprouted since, including the National Women's Soccer League, which currently has ten teams). In 1999, there were just more than 250,000 high school females playing soccer. That jumped to roughly 375,000 in 2015.

Current U.S. Women's National Team midfielder Heather O'Reilly was 14 in 1999. She won her first World Cup in 2015. When asked about a parallel universe in which Chastain misses the kick, she takes a deep breath.

"It's very interesting," she says during the Right to Play's Big Red Ball charity event. "I would like to think the U.S. National Team and girls throughout the country would eventually have that same hunger and competitiveness and dominance, but I think that Brandi really put it on the map by finishing that penalty kick."

Chastain played for the U.S. at the inaugural Women's World Cup in 1991, an eight-team event won by the Americans. She was left off the 1995 World Cup roster, but rejoined the team for the 1996 Olympics, the first with women's soccer. The U.S. won a goal medal in Atlanta.


The 1999 team flipped a switch on women's soccer, publicly, but people could not see what was going on off-camera. The Women's World Cup did not get the media attention it does today. From a television standpoint, that was the decision of the networks. From an Internet standpoint, the bandwidth was not readily available.

"We had thousands of people come to our training sessions, which was eye-opening," she remembers. "We didn't have that in '91, we didn’t have that at Olympic games. I think relatively speaking, the number that came out to our games and practices is fairly similar to what the U.S. is seeing now. I think we all get to see it now on our fingertips with our smartphones and news services available 24 hours a day."

Technology is another field women's soccer has made progress since 1999. FIFA 16, which was released one month ago, is the first edition of the EA Sports video game series to feature female players, and Alex Morgan is featured on the United States' edition cover.

Heather O'Reilly And Alex Morgan

"I don't think that's small. I think that's humongous," Chastain says. "That's like stepping into an environment that no one thinks you belong in. I think about '96, which was the first year women's soccer was a participating sport in the Olympics. Think about it, 100 years and it just became part of the Games.

"I'd love to see the '99 team be able to play the 2015 team. [Soon], people can play both sides of that game."

Chastain remembers practicing in oversized men's training clothing during the 1990s. Now, women's players are in commercials and on billboards everywhere in the United States. But not everywhere in the world.

Chastain had the chance to travel the globe with the national team, and although the women's game has made international progress, other nations lag behind.

"I believe it's a cultural issue," she says. "It's where do the country leaders or federation leaders value their importance to participate? There's still a lot of countries in the world, this being 2015, who still don't think women should participate in sports, so that's a huge obstacle."

Since 1999, there have been four men's and four women's World Cups. In that time, 11 different nations have made the men's semifinals. Only three of those men's powers -- Germany, Brazil and France -- have also made the final four on the women's side.

Jessica Mendoza

"We've come such a long way since the first World Cup, in terms of countries that had never participated," Chastain says. "I think culturally, it's one of the biggest obstacles we have in front of us. I think they don't quite know the whole story."

In the U.S., Chastain breaks more barriers in broadcasting, as she has been a stalwart of soccer coverage on such networks as NBC and ABC/ESPN. In August, former Olympic gold medal softball player Jessica Mendoza became the first female in-booth baseball analyst in ESPN's history. Mendoza and ESPN were criticized by some for the decision. Chastain is appalled.

"I feel the Jessica Mendoza situation was laughable," Chastain says. "You have an extremely intellectual person, a Stanford graduate, a two-time Olympian, who dedicated her life to softball. Fine, the size of the diamond's a little bit smaller and the ball's a little bigger, but she understands the tactics and how baseball functions. I thought it was unbelievable that people made comments saying, 'How could she know anything about baseball?' I grew up playing Little League Baseball. I feel like I could make commentary on that. I'm just proud of Jessica. She has always been a leader, in her sport, for women, she's been an advocate for young girls and I think she's done a great job. She knows what she's talking about. She can back it up. She should never feel anything less than inferior in her position."

Michelle Obama And Brandi Chastain

This fall, Chastain is working with Liberty Mutual Insurance, a new partner of U.S. Soccer. Chastain acknowledges the value of sponsorships cannot be underestimated, as it shows the increased publicity of women's soccer in the U.S. since 1999. Part of the brand's partnership calls for helping increase soccer participation at all ages and skill levels.

The U.S. Women's National Team engaged in two friendlies with Brazil on American soil in October as part of the World Cup "Victory Tour." Four friendlies, two versus Trinidad and Tobago and two versus China, await in December. Then there's the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

More Soccer: Clint Dempsey Absence From USMNT Roster? No Sweat

-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.

U.S. Women's World Cup Hometown Craft Beers


Shannon Boxx

Shannon Boxx, M, Redondo Beach, Calif. Absolution Brewing Co. in Torrance is barely a year old. It also produces root beer and cream soda in addition to its alcoholic brew, which all carry religious monikers. Cardinal Sin Crimson Ale, Purgatory Hefeweizen and Sinner Stout are just the beginning.


Morgan Brian

Morgan Brian, M, St. Simon's Island, Ga. There isn't a single brewery in St. Simon’s Island, and there aren't many near it. But head north to Savannah, Georgia, and you'll find Moon River Brewing Company, a brewery that claims its building is haunted. Watch out for "Toby."


Lori Chalupny

Lori Chalupny, D, St. Louis It's almost impossible to pick just one brewery that represents the St. Louis area. The leader in St. Louis' craft beer movement, however, is almost certainly Schlafly -- the guys and girls at Schlafly market the company as "The Saint. Louis Brewery" with no (visible) apology to Anheuser-Busch. The company took a major step last October when it expanded sales the Chicago area.


Whitney Engen

Whitney Engen, D, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. Strand Brewing Co. resides in Torrance, five miles from Engen's hometown. The six-year-old brewery recently earned the 2015 Small Business of the Year Award for the 66th assembly district. Strand hasn't brewed many super adventurous beers, but judging by its success, it doesn't really need one.


Ashlyn Harris

Ashlyn Harris, GK, Satellite Beach, Fla. Approximately six miles from Harris' hometown and on the opposite side of the Indian River sits the Intracoastal Brewing Co. It features Shellfish Warning Saison!, a stout brewed with Florida panhandle oysters, and Black and Blue Porter, a blueberry porter. According to Florida Today, more than 1,000 patrons at its 2013 opening consumed 212 total gallons. Don't worry about doing the math -- it's more than 2,261 12-ounce servings.


Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath, M, Basking Ridge, N.J. Trap Rock Restaurant and Brewery in Berkeley Heights is approximately eight miles from Heath's hometown. Unfortunately, part of the building was damaged in April after a brewing tank ruptured. This place is certainly one of the more upscale craft breweries and restaurants in New Jersey.


Lauren Holiday

Lauren Holiday, M, Indianapolis Sun King Brewing Co., located in downtown Indianapolis, has produced at least 185 beers, according to its beer list. Its Lonesome Dove and Barrel Aged Batch 666: Sympathy for the Devil earned gold and silver medals respectively at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.


Julie Johnston

Julie Johnston, D, Mesa, Ariz. Desert Eagle Brewing Co. is yet another young brewery on our list. Founded in 2011, Desert Eagle resides on Main Street in Mesa and boasts weekly live music and a handful of beers with bird references in their monikers. No birds were harmed in the making of the beer.


Meghan Klingenberg

Meghan Klingenberg, D, Gibsonia, Pa. Gibsonia is just 16 miles from Pittsburgh, and the Steel City is home to Church Brew Works, a brewery literally housed in a former church. Church won the Great American Beer Festival's 2012 Large Brewpub of the Year Award. No word on if the holy nature of its operation had any effect on the judges.


Ali Krieger

Ali Krieger, D, Dumfries, Va. Voted 2015 Best Local Brewery in the D.C. area by the Washington City Paper, Port City Brewing Company is 27 miles from Krieger's hometown. The brewery and Pacers Running, an East Coast-based shoe store, host a "Joggers and Lagers" event most Mondays throughout the summer, where attendees can jog a pre-determined route and subsequently feel less guilty about consuming craft beer.


Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux, F, Phoenix Phoenix is loaded with craft breweries, and Sun Up Brewing Co. is one of the best. Uwe Boer is the head brewmaster at Sun Up and was touted as the "olliest man in brewing" by the Phoenix New Times in 2012. Hefty praise, sure, but if there's one word you'd want the man brewing your beer to be described as, it might as well be jolly.


Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, M, Delran, N.J. Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant is six miles from Lloyd’s hometown, but has 11 total locations in the northeastern United States. Despite being a chain, its beers frequently earn medals at both the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. Its Russian Imperial Stout has won six combined gold medals between both events.


Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan, F, Diamond Bar, Calif. Sanctum Brewing Co. in Ponoma has a number of interesting beers on top. Newtonian was brewed with honey and fiji apples. Leftovers was brewed with leftover grains, wheat and cranberries. But the most adventurous of all their brews is Hamish the Red, an imperial red ale brewed with turnips. Turnips.


Alyssa Naeher

Alyssa Naeher, GK, Bridgeport, Conn. – Two Roads Brewing lies only four miles from Naeher’s home of Bridgeport. Two Roads boasts some pretty memorable beer labels, the most impressive of which is the barrel-aged version of their Route of All Evil Black Ale. The menacing looking chili pepper on the label boasts that the beer was aged with hot peppers, which is surprisingly not a rare occurrence in the craft beer world.


Kelley O'Hara

Kelley O'Hara, D, Fayetteville, Ga. Approximately 14 miles from Fayetteville sits Jailhouse Brewing Co., a brewery housed in an old jail. The names of the beers are exactly what you'd expect: Misdemeanor Ale, Mugshot IPA, Breakout Stout, Conjugal Visit Imperial Red Ale.


Heather O’Reilly

Heather O’Reilly, M, East Brunswick, N.J. Triumph Brewing Co. in Princeton is one of two of the brewery's locations. It features an Oatmeal Cream Porter, which sounds like an incredibly good beer to cap a meal with. Plus, it's pouring $3 pints during an U.S. Women's matches!


Christen Press

Christen Press, F, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. The Dudes Brewing Co. in Torrance, like any good craft brewery, has a number of unique beers on tap. Grandma's Pecan, an English style, is brewed with pecans, as you might expect. Juicebox Series, which features an orange having a jolly good time on its label, is brewed with cocoa nibs vanilla beans and blood oranges. Odd combo.


Christie Rampone

Christie Rampone, D, Point Pleasant, N.J. Rinn Duin Brewery of Toms River officially opened in 2014. The brewery is named after an Irish castle, and has numerous Irish- and English-inspired beers. All of the beers on the menu are described as either Irish, English or Scottish style, and can only be found in New Jersey.


Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe, M, Redding, Calif. Wildcard Brewing Co. was founded by husband and wife Jeff and Jenny Hansen. Many of their beers have luck or gambling-themed names, like Double Down, Dumb Luck, Liar’s Dice and Shot in the Dark. It's fitting considering the brewery's name and the amount of risk the Hansens took in opening a brewery in the first place.


Amy Rodriguez

Amy Rodriguez, F, Lake Forest, Calif. California boasts the most natives on the roster. Luckily for us, California is home to approximately more than 550 craft breweries. Tustin Brewing Co. in nearby Tustin opened in 1996. It brews fairly basic beer, but its Golden Spike Light Ale and Blimp Hangar Porters are former medalists at the Great American Beer Festival.


Becky Sauerbrunn

Becky Sauerbrunn, D, St. Louis, Mo. Good thing the team has more than one player from St. Louis, because the home of the Cardinals has so, so many breweries worth mentioning. 4 Hands Brewing Co. is only four years old, yet its beer list is stacked. One of the more interesting brews is Ca$h Mony, an Imperial IPA brewed with what Four Hands calls a "wasteful" amount of hops.


Hope Solo

Hope Solo, GK, Richland, Wash. Founded in 2010, White Bluffs Brewery in Richland doesn't really have an "out there" beer. However, itsRed Alt took home a Great American Beer Award in 2014. In fact, Red Alt has earned a number of awards, and is a two-time champion of the German Hybrid Beers Division of the Washington Beer Awards.


Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach, F, Rochester, N.Y. Rohrbach Brewing Co. is a 24-year-old company in Wambach's hometown. The long-time New York brewery has donated more than $500,000 to Rochester charities over its lifetime. Recently, Rohrbach rolled out the first beer in its Neoteric Series, an India Pale Lager with orange and grapefruit.

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