With no live sports for the foreseeable future, many sports fans, teams and Tom Brady have turned to re-watching old games while social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many sports providers are trying to fill the gaps of time typically spent on discussing and analyzing the previous day’s games and events. First there was the return of The Ocho, ESPN’s eclectic roundup of peculiar sports like the Stupid Robot Fighting League, marble racing and stone throwing. Then, on what would have been this year’s Opening Day, MLB Network aired classic Opening Day games including Derek Jeter’s debut in 1996.
On Monday night, in a celebration of Women’s History Month, four classic U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team matches will be broadcast on ESPN2 beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The eight-hour soccer marathon will start off with the 1-0 USA victory over Canada on July 19, 2009 when all-time women’s national team goal-scorer Abby Wambach scored her 100th national team goal.
At 8 p.m., the network will then air the showdown between the USA and Mexico from December 2004 — the last game for longtime captain Julie Foudy, two-time FIFA Women’s Player of Year Mia Hamm and legendary defender Joy Fawcett. That game will be followed by the USWNT’s comeback victory against Brazil in the 2017 Tournament of Nations at 10 p.m. ET and a replay of the March 11 SheBelieves Cup final against Japan at midnight ET.
The USWNT is the most successful international women’s soccer team in history, with four Women’s World Cup trophies, four Olympic gold medals and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups. Aside from trophies and on-field accolades, many of the team’s players have always been a beacon for feminism and social justice.
In 1999, Brandi Chastain shocked the world after celebrating scoring the winning penalty in the World Cup final by ripping off her jersey and falling to her knees in jubilation before being swarmed by her teammates. Chastain received a lot of flak from pundits and critics who called her actions disrespectful and inappropriate. But she, along with the rest of the 99ers, as they are affectionately dubbed, inspired an entire generation of young girls who would grow up playing soccer and idolizing Chastain, Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers and many more.
The current crop of USWNT stars has embraced their role as models of women who are unabashed in their success. After smashing in 13 goals against Thailand for the most lopsided win in World Cup history last summer, the team was criticized for being excessive in both scoring and celebration but the players stood up for each other. “I think it’s disrespectful if we don’t show up and give our best and play our game for 90 minutes,” captain Alex Morgan, who was targeted for scoring and celebrating five goals, said after the game. “It’s disrespectful to the Thai team. I believe they wanted us to play them straight up. For the celebrations, these are goals that we have dreamed of our entire lives.”
From Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement to the USWNT’s equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the players have stood up time and again for what they believe in and inspired many fans along the way.