Throwback Thursday: Mia Hamm's World Cup Goal VS China (June 17, 1995)

Soccer Features World Cup
Share Tweet Submit Pin

It’s hard to understate how important Mia Hamm is to both women’s soccer and the broader American sporting landscape. During the 1990s, her achievements with the USWNT saw her ascend to a pantheon of contemporary American sports legends. Her name for a time was spoken in the same breath as Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, and Ken Griffey Jr. She was featured on face of Wheaties cereal boxes. She helped till the fields of women’s sports that those who preceded her—pioneers like Mary Lou Retton and Billie Jean King—had begun to settle. And, most importantly, she helped make the USWNT, and women’s soccer, what it is today.

Yet beyond her indelible impact on the sporting and cultural landscape, and the doors she opened for young girls eager to prove they could play at least as well as the boys, we shouldn’t forget that Mia Hamm was also an incredible footballer.

With that, we take a look at one of the best moments from her playing days— her goal against China in the 1995 Women’s World Cup.

Or, rather, her second goal against China. The two teams first faced each other in the group stages, where Hamm scored the USA’s last tally in a wild 3-3 draw. The Americans went on to top the group and then easily sauntered over the first hurdle, dispatching Japan 4-0 in the quarterfinals. Sadly, their hopes for a second star ended with a 1-0 loss against eventual champions Norway in the semifinals. That loss set up a another meeting with China—who were themselves bounced out 1-0 by Germany—in the Third Place Match.

Hamm’s goal came in the 55th minute, with the US already leading 1-0 thanks to a 24th minute goal from Tisha Venturini. China’s right back collected the ball and sent a lateral pass across the midfield in order to start building up the attack. The pass ran out of juice mid-air and fell to Hamm, who had tracked back and was deep in her own half. What followed was a brilliant 40 yard run, beating two defenders as she bombed toward goal. With players on both teams left twisting in her wake, Hamm took a touch as she stormed China’s penalty area before sending the ball into the lower left-hand corner of the net. There was nothing China could do against this amazing display of individual brilliance, the kind Hamm had built her career on. The goal was a game-winner as the USWNT claimed Third Place.

This was characteristic not only of what makes Mia Hamm special, but what makes the USWNT special. For all the hand-wringing going on about tactics and youth-versus-experience, this team has a habit of conjuring heroic efforts from its star players. Those who make up the 2015 squad’s stars will need to be ready to step up again tomorrow, as the USWNT once again face China in the Quarterfinals of the WWC.

Kickoff is at 7:30pm EST tomorrow, with US coverage on Fox.

More from World Cup