WWC Semi-Final: France vs US (Class Of 2011)

The United States women's soccer/football team is two games away from making history, and on the eve of Wednesday's World Cup semifinal against France. This is one of the biggest moment in their history - the 1999 World Cup title - remains both an inspiration and, truth be told, an albatross. But finally, current crops of U.S. players are realizing, they have a golden opportunity to create their own iconic triumph before a national audience in the millions.

Let's be honest, you can't watch a second of 2011 Women World Cup coverage without seeing one of the '99ers, whether it's Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Briana Scurry, Kate Markgraf, Mia Hamm or former coach Tony DiCicco. After the U.S. bounced Brazil in the most dramatic fashion possible on Sunday, goalkeeper Hope Solo and forward Abby Wambach got the superstar treatment on Good Morning America and other national talk shows on Monday. But they also know they won't truly escape the shadow of '99 unless they can win two more games here.

It's a delicate balance. Today's U.S. players want to be respectful toward their legendary forebears, the sports pioneers who toiled in obscurity for years before their breakout moment in '99. But the Class of 2011 also wants to write a new chapter in the history of this team. Right now the U.S. women are like the younger sister of a high school genius/homecoming queen, a younger sister who has to listen to stories about her older sibling's greatness all the time.

"That's all we've ever heard about. And we all know that they paved the way. But at some point in time you have to let go and build new stories and new names to the game. I think if there's any team to do it, it's this team. We're not here to win because they did it 12 years ago. We're here to win for our country, for our team, for all the work we've put in. So all this stuff about '99, their journey was great, but that was 12 years ago," said Solo of the '99ers.

It hasn't always been easy for this younger generation. The '99 team are the faces of their sport (Hamm, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, Foudy, etc.), the HBO documentary and the head start from Title IX that gave the U.S. a leg up on most other countries. Today's players have to deal with more competition in the women's game: Japan and France, for example, are both first-time World Cup semifinalists. More teams than ever have the chance to win this tournament.

"It's hard. What they (the '99ers) did was legendary, and I never want to take away from what they accomplished. If it weren't for them, maybe I wouldn't be in this situation right now. They built so much. But I think we should be given a little bit more credit than we're getting. I think the game has evolved. It's a lot harder. The U.S. isn't just going to go out there and beat teams 3-0 or 4-0 anymore," added Carli Lloyd.

France vs United States
FIFA Women's World Cup
Borussia-Park, Germany
Wednesday, 13th July 2011

16:00 GMT (11:00 CST)

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Women's World Cup 2011 Q-Final: Brazil vs US
Video: Mexico Surprises England With A Draw

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