Before the US women’s national soccer team beat Belgium in a 6-0 thriller, American fans had another reason to cheer.
U.S. Soccer hosted the first official USWNT alumni reunion and put on a heartwarming ceremony honoring the 99ers: the infamous squad that had won the 1999 World Cup in Pasadena, Calif. That game drew over 90,000 fans to the Rose Bowl, which still remains the largest crowd to ever to attend a women’s match, and it has since put women’s soccer on the map.
On Sunday, legendary players like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Michelle Akers waved as thousands of fans paid tribute to the team that changed the trajectory of women’s sports forever.
In the early 2000’s, this team, mainly comprised of white women, became the face of the sport, inadvertently giving young girls the impression that soccer was primarily played by female athletes of a certain race.
World-class goalkeeper Briana Scurry, is one of the more well-known exceptions, showing black girls that they, too, could find their place on the pitch.
Besides Scurry, however, there were many other women of color who helped to build women’s soccer to what it is today — players who paved the way for current USWNT regulars like Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald and Mallory Pugh.
Here are 12 USWNT players of color you should know from the Olympic and World Cup rosters circa 1991-2015:
Briana Scurry played an integral role on the team that set the standard for women’s soccer! Notably one of the first African American professional female soccer players, she helped significantly to diversify the sport. In 2017, Scurry became the first Black woman & first female goalkeeper to be elected into the National @soccerhof. #BlackHistoryMonth
141 Likes, 5 Comments – United Women’s Soccer (UWS) (@uwssoccer) on Instagram: “Briana Scurry played an integral role on the team that set the standard for women’s soccer! Notably…”
This National Hall of Famer is one of the best goalkeepers the women’s national team has ever seen. Scurry was a starter for the 99er squad and has since won two Olympic gold medals. She had a career total of 173 international appearances (second to Hope Solo’s 202) and is now an assistant coach with the Washington Spirit. She’s now well-known for being a brain health advocate since suffering from a career-ending concussion in 2010.
88 Likes, 5 Comments – Staci Wilson (@staciwilson) on Instagram: “✌🏽🇺🇸⚽️🇳🇪✊🏽”
Wilson was a reserve defender 1996 Olympic national team that won the gold medal in Atlanta. While she didn’t get much playing time during the Summer Games, she was most recognized in helping to build the Tar Heel soccer dynasty. She led North Carolina to win three NCAA championships and four ACC titles.
Thori Staples was also a defender on the 1996 team. She had earned 64 caps and scored one goal throughout her career. Staples also played for the San Jose CyberRays and the Carolina Railhawks in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), the first professional soccer league in the United States.
🔹Turn on the sound🔹 A not-so-easy question yet World Cup 🏆 Champion Tiffany Roberts delivers a good answer 🔹We did a Q & A with our famous alumni 🔹 #tiffanyrobertssahaydak #sanramonvalley #SanRamonFC #bayareasoccer #soccer #tiffanyroberts #wisdomwednesday
29 Likes, 0 Comments – San Ramon FC ⚽️ (@sanramonfc) on Instagram: “🔹Turn on the sound🔹 A not-so-easy question yet World Cup 🏆 Champion Tiffany Roberts delivers a good…”
Roberts is an Olympic gold medalist, who played two games in the 1999 World Cup to clinch that historic moment. She is now the head coach of the women’s program at the University of Central Florida.
Met the World Cup Champion, Olympic Medalist, and US soccer star Lorrie Fair. Even my coach was amazed by her skills back in 1999. Lucky to meet her 🙂 #lorriefair
28 Likes, 0 Comments – Adam Usupov (@10adam) on Instagram: “Met the World Cup Champion, Olympic Medalist, and US soccer star Lorrie Fair. Even my coach was…”
Fair was the youngest member of the 99er squad, having made the cut at the age of 20. She played every game of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where the U.S. took home a silver medal.
2,212 Likes, 19 Comments – Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) on Instagram: “For my hero and friend #saskiawebber #uswnt #always #usa #soccer #football #PRIDE”
Literally speaking, Webber may have been one of the most colorful players on the 1999 World Cup squad. Fans loved her for her wild dye job. Her hair looked like the American flag. Webber was Scurry’s no. 2 during the ’99 World Cup, but she was the team’s starting goalkeeper in 1993.
425 Likes, 22 Comments – Natasha Kai-Marks (@natashakai6) on Instagram: “In honor of the WWC. Back in my playing days.. #natashakai #boomkanani #wwc #6”
Famous for her flashy playing style and badass tattoos, she scored the game-winning goal during the quarterfinals of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The USWNT then went on to win their fourth gold medal.
I got to practice with Stephanie Cox today! Once in a life time opportunity to practice with a Pro! #StephanieCox
31 Likes, 3 Comments – Michael (@mexican_miguel9) on Instagram: “I got to practice with Stephanie Cox today! Once in a life time opportunity to practice with a Pro!…”
The Mexican-American defender was also one of the key players on that Beijing gold medal run. She’s currently an assistant coach for the Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Shannon Boxx was diagnosed with lupus in 2007 when she was 30 years old. At the time she was playing for the U.S. National Soccer Team and had begun feeling extremely fatigued; regular training sessions left her with joint pain and muscle soreness. She went public with her lupus diagnosis in April 2012 and is now working with the Lupus Foundation of America to create awareness about this chronic autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million people in the U.S. Shannon took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games. #TeamDean #BarsForLupus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #LupusAwareness #LupusWarrior #newyork #nyc #love #hiphop #lupus #followforfollow #fight #followtrain #fighter #pop #positivity #lupussucks #philly #rap #artist #celebrity #ShannonBoxx #soccer #USA #soccerplayer #women
38 Likes, 2 Comments – Team Dean (@o_teamdean) on Instagram: “Shannon Boxx was diagnosed with lupus in 2007 when she was 30 years old. At the time she was…”
Boxx had an incredibly long career with the national team, having gone to four World Cups and winning three Olympic gold medals. Boxx managed to become one of the top defensive midfielders in the world while battling lupus. She had been diagnosed with the inflammatory disease in 2008.
Ellertson had a short stint with the national team after Coach Greg Ryan called her up to play with the 2007 World Cup squad as a defender. But she first earned a lot of respect for being one of the best forwards the University of Washington has ever seen. Ellertson, who had given birth to her daughter at the age of 18, found a way to balance motherhood, soccer and higher education.
Look who’s on our latest show! 2-time Olympic gold medal winner Angela Hucles!! https://t.co/G3MwNjtvIV
This two-time Olympic gold medalist retired from soccer in 2009 after making 109 appearances and scoring 13 goals with the team. After that, she became the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and a regular paid-speaker on topics like leadership, anti-bullying, gender equality and the power of sports in growth and development.
Happy Birthday DANIELLE SLATON. She was a Defender with OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS Team in 2005 (16 games, 1 goal) @daniellevslaton #TeamUSA
The Santa Clara University alum was the youngest player on the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney. After playing pro in WUSA and playing for French club Olympique Lyonnais, she retired to become a soccer analyst. She now works for the San Jose Earthquakes, Fox Sports and the Big Ten Network.
37 Likes, 0 Comments – facts * photos * news (@uswnt.fandom) on Instagram: “the cutest ‘kid. #sydthekid #sydneyleroux #uswnt #orlandopride”
Leroux is known for being one of the speediest, high-scoring forwards in the game. Fans also love her for her candid and often hilarious tweets and Instagram posts about her family, teammates and friends. She was a part of the gold-medal winning squad in London and the 2015 World Cup champion team in Canada. She currently plays with the Orlando Pride.
44.3k Likes, 387 Comments – Christen Press (@christenpress) on Instagram: “work hard. stay hopeful.”
Another electric forward, Press has scored 47 goals in 113 appearances with the national team. At the 2015 World Cup, she made her first tournament appearance and scored the U.S.’s second goal in the match against Australia. It’s looking like she’ll make her second World Cup appearance this summer as France 2019 comes around the bend.
(More than)Worth Mentioning: Kim Crabbe
Kim Crabbe(first black female national player) and Brianna Scurry(first black female Goal Keeper on women’s national team) Two greats! #knowyourhistory #briannascurry #kimcrabbe #supportblackwomenandgirlsinsoccer
15 Likes, 2 Comments – SOCCHER (@femme_fut) on Instagram: “Kim Crabbe(first black female national player) and Brianna Scurry(first black female Goal Keeper on…”
Kim Crabbe didn’t ever get a chance to play in a World Cup or an Olympics, but she’s the O.G. of the O.G.’s. Crabbe was the first African American woman to play on the national team. She participated in the first women’s Olympic Festivals and National Cups before female soccer players even had their own World Cup.