Soccer in the United States has long been popular amongst all ages and it is the most popular recreational sport for both boys and girls, and according to History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game, has been so for about 25 years. This late 20th century boom is attributed for the most part to the existence of the North American Soccer League from 1967 to 1984, and the New York Cosmos, its marquee team which included among its players stellar names like Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer.
More and more Americans, having played the game in their youth are now avid spectators. Most cities with Major League Soccer teams have large fan bases. In addition, as Latin American immigration is increasing overall in the entire nation, so is the popularity of soccer.
The United States also had the honour of winning the first ever game to be played in the inaugural FIFA World Cup, defeating Belgium 3–0 and Bert Patenaude scored the first ever hat-trick at the finals in a 3–0 win against Paraguay. The third-place finishing position at this competition remains their best World Cup result.
Closer to home, the United States has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup on four occasions (in 1991, 2002, 2005 and 2007) and was awarded the honour of hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup. This latter event led to the increase in public interest in the game in the USA which resulted in the creation of the current leagues and the strengthening of the national team.
Chastain first represented her country on April 18, 1991, against Mexico. She came off the bench as a forward to score five consecutive goals in a 12-0 United States win in a CONCACAFFIFA Women's World Cup. Team USA went on to win the World Cup, staged in China.