For years we've heard stories about the '99ers.
They're the likes of Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm. They paved the way for women's soccer in the United States. Just like their successors, they also fought for equal rights and went back-and-forth with the federation for equal treatment.
The '99ers will never go away. However, we have a new group to talk about in the United States. They're called the '19ers, and they just won the FIFA Women's World Cup for the USWNT's fourth title. After hearing backlash for celebrating, sipping tea and players being put out of positions as a sort of test, the team stood up to the challenge and won.
They knocked out the host nation, then took down one of the best teams in Europe in England. Going against first-time finalists the Netherlands, the United States entered the match calmly and didn't fret when they couldn't find the back of Sari van Veenendaal's net in the first half.
These Players Made Us Feel
Megan Rapinoe stepped up to the plate, both on and off the field, and is now in the conversation as America's greatest story of talking the talk while walking the walk. Christen Press made us feel again when she lifted her arms into the air after scoring against England, in remembrance of her late mother Stacy.
Rose Lavelle captured the hearts of the nation, and it was revealed she once dressed up as Mia Hamm for a book report – and she went on to score against the Netherlands in a World Cup final.
Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris celebrated winning the World Cup with a kiss, as they're not just teammates, but engaged to be married this December. Meanwhile, Jess McDonald showed moms everywhere that there is no limitations, bringing along her son Jeremiah to the final and celebrating the victory with him.
Is this the greatest USWNT we've ever seen? Quite possibly.
We've seen the pictures from the parades and the locker room celebrations. During the tournament, we saw the players electing to hang out with each other on their days off. The team is tighter than it's ever been — and that's evident on the pitch, too.
Every Player Was Resilient
Players came together when they needed to. There was no finger pointing when goals were conceded. The players ran up to Alyssa Naeher when she stepped up against England, in possibly the biggest moment she'll ever face as a professional. This USWNT are rightly hailed for their resilience, and Naeher is a key part of that. Even more than just hearing about the '99ers on a frequent basis, she heard Hope Solo's name almost every single twist and turn.
Solo was even at the World Cup, working for the BBC, watching her former understudy during every USWNT game. Now, with the gloves finally her own, Naeher heard all the comments about how she will never fill Solo's shoes and how she couldn't live up to the World Cup pressure like her predecessor did.
While it's true that the gloves Solo left behind would – and will – be hard for anyone to fill, never say never. Naeher performed admirably, making the big saves when she needed to. She already won over her teammates, but now it seems she won over a nation.
Keep the Celebration Going
This team deserves to be celebrated — and they will.
The team endured a hectic schedule once they returned home. While a trip to the White House will likely not be on the cards, the team has made plans to at least visit Congress and the Senate. The demand for equal pay from U.S. Soccer will continue. Megan Rapinoe, during last Wednesday's celebration in New York City, challenged USSF president Carlos Cordeiro to follow up on his promise to work with the team to improve their compensation.
For now, the team will celebrate with their family and friends – but then it's time to get back to work. The USWNT will have a five-match victory tour and, of course, have their duties to their NWSL clubs. Players are calling for the league to grow and the league is making steps, even announcing a TV deal with ESPN to finish out the season.
Get out. Watch these players. They won't be around forever.