Admit it. You were thinking, Joe Torre in heels.
You figured when a U.S. women's team finally broke through, one
that made even the truck drivers care, it would be a bunch of
women with Bronko Nagurski shoulders and five o'clock shadows.
Well, the revolution is here, and it has bright-red toenails.
And it shops. And it carries diaper bags. The U.S. women's
soccer team is towing the country around by the heart in this
Women's World Cup, and just look at the players. They've got
ponytails! They've got kids! They've got (gulp) curves!
Captain Carla Overbeck crawls across a magazine page in a
leopard-skin dress. Midfielder Julie Foudy calls the team
"booters with hooters." Lethal scorer Mia Hamm makes PEOPLE's 50
Most Beautiful. Midfielder Brandi Chastain shows up in the pages
of Gear wearing only a soccer ball, which gets her on Letterman,
who sends Late Night shirts to the whole team, which snaps a
picture of the players apparently wearing only the shirts and
cleats, which causes Letterman to refer to them forevermore as
"Hey, I ran my ass off for this body," says Chastain. "I'm proud
This team is a wonderful combination of Amazonian ambush and
after-prom party. "We're women who like to knock people's heads
off and then put on a skirt and go dance," says Chastain.
In fact, they're one of the first American women's teams with
their own groupies. Very dumb groupies, but groupies
nonetheless. The other night, for instance, one came up to
defender Kate Sobrero in a bar and said, "You're on the U.S.
soccer team, right?"
"Right," said Sobrero.
"Sooo," he said, pawing the floor with his boot, "uhh, well, are
you a lesbian?"
Just to mess with him, Sobrero said, "I'm not, but my girlfriend
Whoever they are, they're absolutely impossible not to watch.
They were 3-0 through Sunday, and every win was decisive. Every
game is a happening, a Thrillith Fair packed with girls and
moms. The U.S. women play technically perfect and emotionally
riveting soccer. Not only that, but they try to score, as
opposed to most men's teams, who try to get up 1-nil and then
pack 11 guys in their own box for 85 minutes. Nobody except the
Pope put more fannies in the seats at Giants Stadium than the
women's team did two weeks ago. They sold out Soldier Field last
Thursday, and had more than 50,000 at Foxboro Stadium on Sunday.
Are the boneheads who planned NBC's Olympic broadcast from
Look at what our American men's international teams have done
lately. Ryder Cup: humiliated. Presidents Cup: humiliated. USA
Hockey: dead humiliated. World Cup: dead last.
The women's soccer team is a machine. It's a juggernaut. But
most important, it's a floating slumber party. Before games
lately, they've been gathering in the hotel hallway for their
crucial pregame preparation: putting a dance CD on the boom box,
singing at the top of their lungs and painting each other's
nails. You figure the Knicks do that?
Hamm calls her teammates "a buncha goofballs," but every one of
them has a college degree or is a full-time student. In Japan
the minute a player gets married, she quits the game; not the
U.S. women. Even when these women give birth, they only pause at
10 centimeters. Overbeck lifted weights on the day she delivered
her only child. Mother of two Joy Fawcett, probably the best
defender in the world, used to breast-feed in the back of
huddles during breaks in practice.
Actually, they're not only fully functioning females, they're
fully functioning human beings, too. This off-season, a kid
knocked on the door of legendary American midfielder Michelle
Akers's home outside Orlando and said, "Can you come out and
kick the ball with us?"
Now, if this were the door of most American male professional
athletes, the kid would've been: 1) escorted away by security,
2) rolled away by paramedics or 3) simply trying to make contact
with her biological father.
What did Akers do? She went out and kicked with her, but only
after bringing out an armful of pictures, books and pins. Ain't
it great? Ten-year-old girls all over the country are taking
down their Backstreet Boys posters and putting up the Goal-Goal
That ad is right, of course. Clinton would be crazy not to come
to the World Cup final on July 10 in Pasadena.
Who else would you want presiding over Babe City?
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
"We're women who like to knock people's heads off," Chastain
says, "and then put on a skirt and go dance."