The Summer of Love

The Women's Soccer Team Swept the U.S. Public Off Its Feet. What Happens Now That the Affair Is Over?

Bill Clinton was on hand in Pasadena, as he was for the quarterfinal in Washington. The prez himself even arranged for Mia Hamm's husband, Marine Corps pilot Christian Corry, stationed in Japan just weeks before the start of the tournament, to be granted leave in order to attend the final. And those aspiring to Clinton's throne were not above wrapping themselves in the teams's star-spangled success: a plane circling overhead had a banner that read, "Go team USA. Make history— Elizabeth Dole."

They drew attention from every corner of the globe, even if those corners were merely fascinated by the fact that a women's sporting event could draw such attention. After their final training, the day before their torrid affair would end, they stood sweat-soaked and beaming, and they turned the table on the unfathomable number of journalists who had constantly descended upon them. Perched on benches in the Rose Bowl locker room, the women brought out cameras and took snapshots of the press— again, like it was the last day of camp.

As for what the future holds, Messing knows that the insane level of attention that the women and the sport have received will naturally die down. But she has hopes that "the Women's World Cup as a sporting event will be firmly embedded" in the minds of all sports fans, and that "next time, it will be eagerly anticipated."

There are also still mumblings— growing louder by the news cycle— of using WWC '99 and the 2000 Olympics as springboards for a women's professional league. Messing feels that the purpose of a league would be to "allow our athletes to make a career out of what they do best. We all want to make careers out of what we do best."

But for now, summer's over and the women will head home to their different corners of the country: some will go back to school— either as coaches or students— others home to families and kids and club teams. The country may love 'em and leave 'em, but it will never forget them.

Next summer, there's a romantic rendezvous planned for Sydney, Australia, and those who came to watch them play will hopefully be there: a little older, a little wiser, and ready to fall in love all over again.

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