This story was originally posted on ENYSoccer.com Dec. 10, 2005
By Michael Lewis
Before writing another word about “Dare to Dream,” yours truly must make this admission: I contributed three still photos of the U.S. women’s national team on its return from the very first Women’s World Cup to HBO. I was compensated for the pictures and received a credit at the end of the film. If you think this review has been compromised, so be it. If you don’t want to read it, I will understand. If not, enjoy.
“Dare To Dream: The Story Of The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team” is standard HBO sports documentary fare. In other words, it is a quality and entertaining production that tells the story of the team’s roots from its early days two decades ago through the years of hand-me downs from the U.S. men’s team to eventual global success and extraordinary high expectations in the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics while redefining the opportunities for women athletes.
The movie, which will make its cable debut at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday on HBO, documents the birth and rise of the U.S. women’s side mostly through the eyes of the Fabulous Five — or the 91ers, as they also were called (because they were the final five players left from the 1991) — Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly.
All five women brought something different to the table:
* Hamm, of course, became the face of women’s soccer, domestically and internationally, collecting a world record 158 international goals.
* Foudy became a major spokeswoman in female sports and for women’s issues.
* Fawcett became the ultimate soccer mom not only returning to the game after giving birth to her daughters but taking them on the road with the team and still managing to perform at a high level.
* Chastain, who was cut from the team as a forward in the early 90’s before she returned as a key defender, wound up in the spotlight by connecting for the tournament-winning penalty kick in the shootout against China at USA ’99 and ripping off her jersey in celebration (Chastain, who currently is a sideline reporter for ESPN on MLS games, retired internationally after new coach Greg Ryan did not include her on any of his team’s roster this past year).
* And Lilly, the only one of the five still performing for the U.S., is the iron women of international soccer as she inches closer to a record 300 caps, a milestone she is prepared to reach sometime next year.
“You had the perfect cast,” broadcaster Robin Roberts said. “They were the girls next door. There was a freshness to them, a wholesomeness to them. There was the right kind of mix of that sexuality with athleticism. And you know what? They were good.”
The film, produced by Joe Lavine (HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein are the executive producers), dovetails around the last time all five players performed competitively together — the 5-0 victory over Mexico at The Home Depot Center in December 2004.
If you are a soccer fan, particularly a women’s supporter, you already know the score and results. There is little drama in this documentary. But it is the journey, not necessarily the destination that makes intriguing viewing. Even this writer learned a few facts he didn’t know about the team.
The formative years, when Michelle Akers was the main womqn, are detailed as the team grew up and grew together en route to a pair of world championships (1991 and 1999) and two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004). It also doesn’t ignore the disappointing failures — third-place finishes in the 1995 and 2003 WWC and a silver-medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Mainstream America probably first heard about the U.S. women when they earned the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics. But like it or not, because the gold medal match was virtually shunned by NBC, the team did not get the credit at the time.
Three years later, it did in the land of hype as the American women captured the world championship title and the hearts of the country during the summer of 1999 with a magical soccer tour that never will be able to be duplicated.
“Carla [Overbeck’s] husband [said], ‘Do you know what’s going on here? This is a revolution. You guys are making a difference.’ And we’re like, ‘Really?’ We’re just trying not to throw up before our next game.'”
If I have a quibble with the film, it is leaving out Carin Jennings-Gabarra as a key performer in the 1991 WWC. She was, after all, the Golden Ball winner as MVP, scoring five goals and creating five others.
Also, Tiffeny Milbrett’s contribution to the team was minimized. You will watch her score the equalizing goal in stoppage time against Norway at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. But not much is said about the former New York Power player and first Women’s United Soccer Association MVP and leading scorer (2001) who also has scored 100 international goals.
But those admissions do not detract from the story or enjoyment of the film.
It is an entertaining and informative story of the team’s trials and tribulations and failures and successes that likely will become legend and myth in years to come.