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August 15, 2012
Olympic semi was spectacular, but SNN panel gives the nod to 1999 U.S. Cup final win over China

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

The United States women's national team played two epic games last week, beating Canada in the Olympic semifinals and then Japan to win the Gold Medal in London.

The game against Canada, especially, was perhaps one of the best women's soccer games ever played, but was it the best ever?

Soccer News Net has tried to find the answer, with a fairly random e-mail poll of a panel of soccer experts.

While last Monday's semifinal ranked pretty high in almost all the responses, the choice was the 1999 Women's World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl, when Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty kick after the U.S. and China had battled to a 0-0 draw in front of a capacity crowd of 90,185, still the largest crowd ever to see a women's soccer game. Both games were mentioned by virtually every one of our panel, but the 1999 game was named first by more of our panelists.

Our panel of respondents included longtime soccer broadcasters JP Dellacamera, Phil Schoen and Dave Johnson; two-time WPS coach of the year Paul Riley; international referee Kari Seitz; longtime women's soccer executive Louise Waxler, who is now the Executive Director of the McLean (Va.) Soccer Association; Joe Cummings, President of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America; Dan Levy, a player agent who has represented numerous U.S. players; former U.S. Soccer Director of Communications John Polis; as well as former U.S. National team players Tracy Noonan and Brandi Chastain, and Tony DiCicco, former coach of the U.S. Women's National Team.

1) 1999 Women's World Cup Final, USA vs China, Pasadena, Calif.
Played in scorching heat, the 1999 Women’s World Cup final was a slugfest between what were at the time the two world powers in women's soccer. Although the game itself might not have been the greatest from a tactical and aesthetic standpoint, comments that came in with the responses for the most part indicate our panel felt the magnitude of the game and what it meant for women's soccer placed it at the top of the list.

Some of the comments on this game:
•" Fantastic tension with the 2 best teams in the world playing for the top prize."
•" the pressure on the US to win at home with the biggest crowd ever at the stadium and watching on TV."
•" [the]game was only okay, but significance lifts it higher."

2) 2012 Olympic Semifinal, USA vs Canada, Manchester, England
Last Monday's (August 6) Olympic semifinal 4-3 win over Canada ranked second, and was named on virtually every respondent's list.

Some of the comments on this game:
•"great skill, great comeback, great individual performances by both teams, and the game was attractive despite the massive emotional investment."
•"fantastic game and hard to put this as number 2 but, it has been 10 years since Canada has beaten the USA despite the massive emotional investment."
•"It was a match I didn't want to end."

3) 2011 World Cup Quarterfinal, USA vs Brazil, Dresden, Germany
An amazing escape for the shorthanded Americans, with Abby Wambach knotting the score 2-2 in the 122nd minute and the US going on to win in penalty kicks.
•" These were two favorites to win (the World Cup)"

4) 2011 World Cup Final, USA vs Japan, Frankfurt, Germany
After an amazing comeback against Brazil, the United States lost the 2011 World Cup final to Japan on penalty kicks, after letting two leads slip away.

5) 2004 Olympic Final, USA vs Brazil, Athens, Greece
The 2004 Olympic Gold medal match in Athens, when the United States beat Brazil 2-1 in overtime on goals by Lindsey Tarpley and Abby Wambach. It was the final championship for Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Brandi Chastain.

Some of the comments on this game:
•"The final game for several of the iconic stars that paved the way for women's soccer."
•"passing the torch."

Some other games suggested by our panelists:
1991 Women's World Cup Final, USA vs Norway, Guanzhou,China
The United States defeated Norway on a pair of goals by Michelle Akers in the first women's World Cup final.

1996 Olympic Final, USA vs China, Athens Ga.
USA defeated China 2-1 on goals by Shannon MacMillan and Tiffeny Milbrett

1998 NCAA Final, Florida vs UNC, Greensboro, NC
Florida snapped North Carolina's 70-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win.

1999 Women's World Cup Quarterfinal, Germany vs. USA, Landover, Md
The Germans took a 1-0 lead with a Brandi Chastain own goal, but the U.S. came from behind to win 3-2 on goals by Tiffeny Milbrett, Chastain and Joy Fawcett.

2000 Olympic Final, USA vs Norway, Sydney, Australia
The U.S. lost to Norway 3-2, their only loss ever in an Olympic knockout game.

2001 WUSA Final, Bay Area vs Atlanta Beat, Foxboro, Mass
After playing to a 3-- tie in regulation and overtime, Bay Area won 4-2 on penalty kicks.

2008 Olympic Quarterfinal, USA vs Canada, Shanghai, China
The U.S. won 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Tasha Kai.

2011 WPS Championship game, WNY Flash vs Philadelphia Independence, Rochester, NY
Christine Sinclair gave the Flash an early lead, but Amy Rodriguez tied the game in the 87th minute. WNY went on to win on pks, 5-4.

While the question was not posed as a vote, respondents were asked to list between three and five games. We totaled the number of times each game was mentioned and in what position to come up with the final list.

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