The United States Women’s National Team was preparing to host the world’s best teams in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, but on May 22, 1999 in Orlando, one of the great players in international soccer history took a leap from legend to immortal. The USWNT faced Brazil in pre-Women’s World Cup action, and Mia Hamm entered the game tied with Italy’s Elisabetta Vignotto for the most goals by any player in international soccer history. She wanted to end her quest to reach the top on this date against a Brazilian squad that was also expected to contend in the World Cup.
The 10,452 who were at the Citrus Bowl wanted to see history made, and Hamm didn’t disappoint. In the final moments of the first half, a buildup featuring Michelle Akers, Hamm, Kristine Lilly, and Cindy Parlow led to Hamm receiving the ball on the right flank. She shook off a Brazilian defender and fired a shot that slipped through the legs of Brazilian goalkeeper Didi into the net.
The entire team swarmed off the bench to celebrate with Mia at midfield. It was Mia Hamm’s 108th goal, and she finally stood alone atop the goalscoring mountain. She became the most prolific goal scorer, man or woman, in international soccer history.
The USWNT went on to win 3-0 over Brazil, but it was a game that was in doubt until the final minutes. Briana Scurry’s 10 saves also helped the USWNT along the way. Of course, the USWNT went on to win the Women’s World Cup that summer, and Mia Hamm added to her list of accolades. She finished her career with a record 158 goals, one that would stand until Abby Wambach finally passed her in 2013. Still, many consider her the greatest women’s soccer player of all time, and Mia Hamm is a name that means greatness in American sports.