What would it take? The NFL and NBA lockouts would have to last years. MLB, the NHL, and PGA would have to disband, and NASCAR would have to prohibit beer sales at racetracks. In other words, Jake, it would take a miracle. Not a sports miracle. The parting-of-the-Red-Sea kind.
If you all think the '99 win was an epochal moment, more power to you. But where can I buy the Grantland you're smoking? Yeah, we won. Cool. The Nike ad with Chastain and Kevin Garnett was hysterical. The problem with women's soccer isn't some fanciful missed marketing opportunity. Mainstream American sports fans (i.e. dudes), who will watch absolutely any sport if the Stars & Stripes are involved, don't want to watch pro women's soccer. Or, really, the men's game.
Which raises a point Emma was kind enough to mention, because she can. We aren't talking Premier, or even MLS. The obvious, not especially gracious truth, is that women players aren't as big, strong, or fast as men, so the game is less interesting. Of course, female athletes train and compete just as hard as men. Yes, it's good that millions of 'tweens took up the sport. That doesn't mean I'll pay to watch them play it.
Emma wants to know if FIFA missed an opportunity to get Americans interested in soccer. Like FIFA cares. Do you really think those corrupt autocrats want the egalitarian, tolerant US to conquer "their" game? Nah. FIFA represents The Rest of the World. As everyone knows, The Rest of the World hates us. They don't really want us to care, because they don't want us to win.
So, go ahead. Get all sad and nostalgic for What Might Have Been. Mourn the Clintonian Belle Époque of inflated tech stocks and third mortgages. Get all pouty about the state of American women's soccer. That's giving the world just what they want. The optimistic, hence patriotic, thing to do is cheer mightily for the Red, White, and Blue right now, looking boldly toward the future, without a hint of nostalgia or regret for what might have been.
Watch the WWC? Sure. Watch with melancholia? That just wouldn't be American.