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What if all the pressure was on? What if everything rested on your shoulders? Would you falter? What if you were in an epic battle for World supremacy? If your country, your home was counting on you to succeed; could you handle that? All by yourself…or should I say; SOLO?
Sorry to disappoint Star Wars fans, but this isn’t the Solo you were expecting. We’re talking about Hope Solo; the starting goal keeper for the women’s US National team. In USA’s match against Brazil, Solo made a spectacular penalty kick save to give the United States the edge in their comeback thriller making her an instant American hero. As great as that save was, it was merely an exclamation point on the play Solo has displayed through this World Cup. Her leadership skills and spectacular skill set has made her the undisputed top women’s goalie in the world today; so where has she been our whole lives?
Hope Amelia Solo grew up in Richland, Washington. She grew up in a rough child hood setting where the game of soccer was her only constant. When she was six years old, her parents divorced and she lived solely with her mother. Her father was a Vietnam veteran who was homeless for most of his life but stayed a major influence in Hopes life until his sudden death in 2007. Hope became a soccer star while she was in high school but oddly enough not as a goalie. Solo was a forward for Richland High School scoring 109 career goals and becoming a two time All-American. Solo received a full scholarship to University of Washington where they decided her athletic, and quick reaction abilities would make her a stand out keeper. They were right.
Solo became the Huskies all time leader in saves and shutouts and was a four-time All Pac-10 selection and a three-time All American. While in her sophomore year of college, Solo became a full time member of the USA national team. After her college career, and being an alternate for the 2004 Olympic team, Solo was drafted to the former WUSA team, the Philadelphia Charge. Following the Charges fallout from the league, Solo went and played with a few clubs overseas in Germany and Sweden while working her way up the American depth chart.
In 2007, Solo’s career looked to take off as she was named to the women’s World Cup squad. She was named the starter over veteran Brianna Scurry and gave up only two goals in four games while posting two consecutive shut outs leading up to a semi final match against Brazil. Then US coach, Greg Ryan, made a shocking move and benched Solo for Brianna Scurry. Scurry went on to have a dismal performance and the US lost 4-0 to Brazil.
Solo, clearly outraged, publicly criticized Ryan’s coaching move saying “It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.” Solo was then dismissed from the team before the third place World Cup game and did not participate in the post World Cup tour.
Hope Solo did not let the 2007 World Cup affect her play and kept training harder than ever. In 2009 Solo joined the Women’s Professional soccer league with St. Louis Athletica and became the WPS goalie of the year. She then went on to play for the Atlanta Beat and currently starts for the Orlando MagicJack and is easily the best keeper in the league. The WPS is where Solo competes and improves her skills, but Solo shines when she steps on the field for the red, white, and blue.
Watching Solo on Sunday vs. Brazil was inspiring to say the least. She is not simply a goalie but she is a leader. She steps out onto the field and commands the respect from the other team, while also imposing fear in their eyes. Solo’s outspoken attitude was seen as arrogance in 2007 and is now seen as, for lack of better terms, “swag” in 2011. Solo has became an American hero, sex symbol, and inspiration after one game and one save vs. Brazil, however Solo has been someone to look up to her whole life.
What if you were in a battle for world supremacy? What if you had your countries fate on your shoulders? Would you falter? Well, we know Solo wouldn’t, and now she looks to continue her fight for World supremacy as she takes on France in the semi final match on Wednesday. I wouldn’t expect her to be benched this time. Good luck Hope; America is behind you.