Chastain happy to see U.S. back on top, playing in ACC for fifth time
STATELINE — Brandi Chastain wasn’t sure how she would react if the U.S. women’s national team won the 2015 World Cup. When the final whistle sounded and the Americans had beaten Japan for their third world title, it was an emotional moment for the iconic female soccer star.
“It sent chills down my spine and I had tears rolling down my face,” Chastain said before the American Century Championship first round on Friday. “It’s been a long time — 16 years is a long time — and I’m super happy for the players because I know that joy and I know that elation.
“And I’m very happy that I never have to answer the question, ‘Why can’t the women’s national team win a World Cup?’ That’s over and done.”
Chastain was on the field the first two times the U.S. won the World Cup — in 1991 and 1999. She clinched the second title by converting the winning penalty kick against China at the Rose Bowl, then produced an iconic moment by taking her jersey off in celebration — and nearly two decades later still feels a connection with the current world champions.
“We wear the same badge — we wear the U.S. Soccer crest and we represent all women and girls playing soccer in this country,” Chastain said. “And it’s even greater than that — we represent the possibly of playing the game globally and we are the role models.
“In that way, we’re very much connected — and we always will be.”
Chastain watched the final with 175 soccer-playing girls while with Olympic Development Program in Oregon. Like the rest of the nation, she was impressed by Carli Lloyd’s historic performance that included a hat trick in 16 minutes and led the U.S. to victory.
“It’s something that happens in sports so infrequently — where every touch is the perfect touch, every movement is the perfect movement,” Chastain said. “The thing that separated her in this tournament is that she was ready.”
As for Lloyd’s third goal, struck from just inside the midfield line, Chastain said the distance didn’t surprise her. It was the nature of the shot did.
“It’s that she took the touch, looked up and saw it, and intentionally did it,” Chastain said.
Chastain represents women in sports wherever she goes — and the ACC is no exception. Making her fifth tournament appearance, she is one of three women in the 2015 tournament field — the other two are former supermodel Kim Alexis and Lisa Cornwell, the a host for Golf Channel.
“Because I’ve been here before and know a majority of the players, everybody is super respectful and very receptive to me being here,” Chastain said. “They’re happy that I’m here and it’s a comforting environment.”
Chastain last appeared at Edgewood Tahoe in 2012, after playing three straight years from 2006-08. Her best finish has been 66th place on two separate occasions.
“The only pressure is me — I want to do well because I’m a competitor,” Chastain said. “I would like to be somewhere in the middle to the upper middle part.”
In the first round Friday, Chastain played in a twosome with Alexis and shot a minus-10. She said one of her favorite aspects playing in the tournament has been offering soccer tips to fellow athletes with daughters in the sport.
“The NFL guys are coming up to me asking questions about it,” Chastain said. “That’s the exciting part for me.”