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Briana Scurry was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s national soccer team for years, including during its 1999 World Cup victory. She is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Scurry joins Judy Woodruff to discuss play so far at this year's World Cup, how social media and sponsorships have changed the landscape of women's sports and her hopes for U.S. women's soccer moving forward.
The U.S. women's national soccer team is returning to the World Cup final for the third straight time, after winning a nail-biter today against England. It was close from the outset, as both teams scored early.
Team USA scored first, with a goal from Christen Press, who played instead of co-captain Megan Rapinoe. England retaliated soon after. Then, the U.S.' other co-captain, Alex Morgan, scored the second goal.
In the second half, England appeared to tie the match, but the goal was taken back on a penalty call. England had one more shot to tie it on a penalty kick. It was Steph Houghton against the American goalie, Alyssa Naeher.
On the whistle, Houghton is ready. So is Naeher. Houghton's shot saved by Naeher!
On Sunday, the U.S. will defend its World Cup title against the winner of the Netherlands-Sweden match, which will be played this weekend.
Briana Scurry knows something about winning saves. She was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. women's nation soccer team in the '90s. She was a two-time Olympic gold medalist. She was also goalie for the 1999 World Cup champions.
Briana Scurry, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Thank you for having me. Yes.
So, I know you were celebrating, you were pumping your fist just now watching that.
What — explain it. What happened today?
So, today was an amazing win for the USA, but also, throughout the entire tournament, the goalkeeping of the USA has been a question mark, because Alyssa Naeher, this is her first time ever playing in a major tournament, whether it's a World Cup or an Olympics.
And so for her to make that huge save at the very end of the game was so crucial for her to be able to prove to herself and to everyone that USA is here to play and that she's a big part of this team.
Was there a question about that before?
There was a little question about it, because whenever a goal keeper comes in, and it's the first time, you just really don't know what you're going to get.
And even though the USA has had a really great run at the tournament, Alyssa hasn't had to do a whole lot up until today.
So, a lot of conversation before the game was getting started that Megan Rapinoe wasn't going to be playing, that she didn't warm up. And yet they won.
So does that tell us something?
What it tells you is that this is 23 players, and it's an entire team, and Megan Rapinoe, when she's needed, does her job incredibly well. She scored the two goals the game before and the two goals game before that, but today wasn't able to go.
I mean, I believe it was a slight hamstring injury that they didn't think was able to go through. But you know what? The team picked up. Christen Press came in and played, got a goal right away. And then Alex Morgan finished it off, and Alyssa did her part.
So, a team with depth, is that what you're saying?
Yes, absolutely, absolutely.
This is the deepest team I have ever seen. You essentially have two 11-side teams that are just as fantastic as any other team in this tournament.
So how much competition was England? I heard some conversation afterwards about the formation that they used and so forth. But what — how did you see that?
Well, a tournament like this is interesting, because a team will play a certain way the entire way through the tournament. And England had been playing incredibly well.
But when a team comes up against the United States, they often change their system or their personnel. And that's exactly what England did. They did have a great run at it. They did have an opportunity. As you saw on the video, they actually almost appeared to tie the game.
And so they had a fantastic run at it. They really should be proud of what they have done.
And now, as we say, the U.S. will face the winner of Netherlands, Sweden.
And we have been — people have been talking over the last couple of weeks about how the European teams are doing better. They have almost been inspired by the U.S.
I mean, what's going on there?
It's a fantastic story.
I think, for me, in 1999, when our team did incredibly well in the World Cup, that essentially created just this burst of activity and interest in women's soccer, not only in our country, but all around the world.
And so now what you're seeing, two decades later, a lot of these programs have had funding put into them. And now these women's teams are really making a play to be the top dog on the world stage. And that's what you're seeing.
You essentially have two England — two European teams playing for the semifinal tomorrow, and the United States getting through to the final.
So, in a way, the little girls who were watching 20 years ago or whose families were sitting around the TV or in the stadium watching are now able to play themselves.
Yes. It's an amazing thing, isn't it?
I mean, for me, it's so gratifying to see these players who saw my '99 team do something, and now they're doing the exact same thing.
So, there is more interest in women's soccer. I mean, how do you see the change? I mean, I was reading some numbers today about how many people, a billion people following this globally.
How much of a change has there been?
Oh, it's enormous. It's exploded, really.
I think social media is really a big part of that change, not only social media, but also sponsorship. Nike and LUNA Bar and all these different sponsors, Allstate and Coca-Cola, are now part of the amazing sponsorship that U.S. soccer has.
And that alone, these companies have put this team out there, so that people can connect with them, can understand them, can get to know them. And then, with social media, each player has their individual brand. And you get to really have a feel that you know them.
Like, you feel you know Alex because you can look at her social media and see where she had coffee this morning. And that wasn't something that existed back when I played.
So, were the — was the support from these companies, did that follow the public — the rise in public interest or which? I mean, chicken or the egg? I mean, how do you — how do you — I mean, how did that happen?
I think, first of all, it was the fact that we were very successful in '99 and throughout. We win. We win the World Cup. We win Olympic gold medals.
Every team, every corporation wants to be a part of a winner. So that's one element. And that's something that we have had for decades.
But, also, you see so many different kinds of women that come through on the team. But they all have these qualities that are great standards for companies to be a part of. And so when you have a winner coupled with great personalities and people who really resemble somebody that you want to get behind, it's easy for companies to get on board.
At the same time, we know there is still a disparity in pay for men, — between what men are paid and what women are paid for the same sport.
And we know there's been a lawsuit…
… that is, I guess, now in mediation.
Are we going to see that gap closed? Or how much are we going to see women's — what women are paid come closer to what the men earn?
I think, ever since 1999, my team started the whole battle with equality and equity in pay.
And I think now, 20 years later, the lawsuit was the next step, the next chapter, if you will, in that battle against U.S. soccer, to get equality for a team that not only is incredibly successful — so that wasn't an issue — but very popular.
Money is coming in. There's revenue being generated. The last several years, the women's team have generated at least as much, if not more, than the men every single year.
So, now that argument about you don't generate revenue, you don't get ratings, those arguments aren't valid anymore. So I think now is the time. Plus, society is different. You have all these women who just got into Congress, who were voted into Congress recently. You have the MeToo movement.
It's just a different environment now. And I just think it's time. It's time for U.S. soccer to show that they're not only just the governing body for soccer for boys and men, but also for women and girls.
So, clearly, you want a win for the U.S. women in the final.
Yes. Yes, of course.
What more do you want for U.S. women's soccer?
What I want is, I want everybody to see the amazing inspiration that these women are.
I mean, they're out there. Even though they're having this battle going on behind the scenes, they're still out there expressing themselves and doing their jobs and making it work and being very personal. And they're inspiring not only a nation, but a world, really.
And I really think that it's important that U.S. soccer and other sponsors get behind them and actually lift them up and be able to have a next World Cup or a next Olympics where we're not actually having to fight anymore for equal pay.
And I think of the little girls who are out there watching.
It may be their turn 10, 20 years from now.
Yes, absolutely. Definitely.
Briana Scurry, who is legendary in U.S. women's soccer, thank you.
Thank you for having me.
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