Briana Scurry: best goalkeeper in U.S. women’s soccer history

Theodora Aidoo March 20, 2020
Briana Scurry, best goalkeeper in U.S. women’s soccer history - Pic Credit:

Briana Scurry is a legendary goalkeeper, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s World Cup champion as well as an excellent speaker. She was one of the most successful goalkeepers in the U.S. Women’s National Team history.

The way she played oozed excellence, and her brilliance inspired a nation. Scurry paved the way for future generations of African American talent in the United States Women National Team.

Scurry, a Minnesota native, was one of the first African American professional female soccer players and one of the only openly LGBT players in the league.

Scurry was a high school multi-sport athlete in Minnesota. She excelled in soccer and basketball. She attended the University of Massachusetts, where she led the team to the NCAA Women’s College Cup.

Called into the U.S. team by then coach Tony DiCicco, she was U.S. team’s goalkeeper from 1994 to 2008. Barely a year after joining the team, as the starting goalkeeper, Scurry led the side to a third place finish in the 1995 Women’s World Cup

Scurry’s best career moment was in the U.S. team’s overtime victory over China with over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl during the 1999 Women’s World Cup title match when she saved one of the penalty kicks to ensure the win. 

That particular save and the impact of that match projected her and the team to the world.  There she got her fame, and her heroics still talked about today.

briana scurry
Pic Credit: NY Daily News

Scurry paved the way for future generations of African American talent on the USWNT, and for that we are forever grateful.

After 1999, she was benched for the 2000 Olympics, serving as the backup but Scurry fought her way back into the game by performing well for the Atlanta Beat of the now-defunct Women’s United Soccer Association and earned her starting spot back in 2002.

In 2001, WUSA was the world’s first women’s league where the players were paid as professionals. Scurry played three seasons as starting goalkeeper for the Atlanta Beat.

She started for the USA in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2004 Summer Olympic Games. She also played two matches for the USA in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the alternate goalkeeper on the 2008 Olympic Team.

She was the only African American starter on the USWNT throughout the 1990s. Scurry played 173 matches, the most-ever by a U.S. goalkeeper, and secured the backline in the team’s most successful stretch flanked by the 1996 Olympics gold medal and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Briana Scurry wearing the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal from the Atlanta games
Pic Credit: AP Photo/Luca Bruno/ File

Scurry’s career would experience a drastic shift when in April 2010 a Philadephia forward slammed into her. She developed headaches which eventually led to her retirement.

Scurry became depressed and suffered continuous concussions and trauma. At a point she contemplated suicide because she had no money and had to pawn her gold medals.

Scurry is currently general manager of South Florida’s MagicJack FC, a Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) team. She is a respected voice on concussions and her exposure has translated into a successful business as a speaker.

briana scurry
Pic Credit: Lacrosse Magazine

Scurry has spoken at numerous events for organizations including leading research hospitals, top Fortune 500 corporations, influential non-profits, as well as community and youth events. She has also participated in large conferences focusing on topics ranging from concussion and sport safety to LGBT and diversity issues.

On Dec. 6, 2017, the Washington Spirit named Scurry the team’s first assistant coach on its technical staff and an adviser for the Maryland and Virginia Development Academy programs.

“Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to, but you can come out of the ashes and rise up,” Scurry said.

Scurry has had quite a handful of accomplishments: 1989 high school All-American, 1993 National Collegiate Goalkeeper of the Year, 3-time Algarve Cup winner, 2-time CONCACAF Gold Cup winner, 2-time Olympic gold medalist, Women’s World Cup winner.

But the ultimate one was her 2017 induction into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame becoming the first black woman ever to be and remains the only one in the Hall. She has also been immortalized in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in several areas, including a powerful Title IX exhibit.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: March 20, 2020


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