8 Reasons You Gotta Love Hope Solo

July 30, 2012

There is little doubt that one of the major reasons the United States Women’s National Team is on track to continue its run towards an unprecedented fourth Olympic Gold medal is the strength of its netminder, Hope Solo.

While Solo’s career has certainly had its fair share of controversies, here are eight reasons you’ve still got to love her.

It’s her birthday

Ok, you might not be reading this today, but for those who are, July 30 is Solo’s birthday and she’s turning 31 today.

Happy Birthday, Hope.

She has overcome a lot in her life

Solo’s troubles growing up have been well-documented, from being conceived during a conjugal visit when her mother visited her father in prison, to being allegedly kidnapped by her father several years later, to seeing her family’s car repossessed as a child to losing her father to a heart attack shortly before the 2007 World Cup, she has had a lot to difficulties to deal with during her lifetime.

Overcoming those obstacles has no doubt contributed to the confidence, even brashness, so apparent in Solo today.

She speaks her mind

While Solo’s comments might not always be the most tempered or well-timed, there is something refreshing about an athlete who is willing to speak their mind and not fill all of their public comments with worn-out clichés.

Solo is most famous for publicly calling out then head coach Greg Ryan for benching her in the 2007 World Cup semi-finals. But, she has also drawn controversy for accusing the fans of former WPS team Boston Breakers of being racist, claiming to be drunk on NBC during the USWNT’s interview after winning Olympic Gold in 2008 and most recently for her twitter-rant (below) directed towards NBC commentator and former USWNT star Brandi Chastain.

She refuses to make excuses

In the Olympic opener last week against France, the USWNT went down early 2-0. Both of France’s goals were well struck and there was little Solo could have done on either goal.

USWNT head coach Pia Sundhage was quick to give Solo an excuse, however, claiming that the sun had been in her eyes in the first-half of play.

Yet Solo, refused to accept the excuse saying, “Was the sun a factor, as coach Pia said? I will never use that as an excuse.”

She was an All-American in high school… as a striker

In high school, Solo scored 109 goals as a striker and was a two-time All-American.

It was not until college that she made the difficult switch to becoming a full-time goalkeeper, where her transition was so quick and complete that she became a three-time All-American goalkeeper for the University of Washington.

She commands her box

In an area of goalkeeping that tends to be a weakness among many female goalkeepers, Solo is fantastic.

Solo handles services into her box at a level that no other goalkeeper in the world can match, pushing, punching and parrying danger away from her net.

The first minute of this video shows multiple examples of how solid Solo is defending service into her box.

She’s fearless off her line

Another area that tends to be a weakness in the women’s game is the ability of keepers to correctly judge when to come off their line and then to get down and get big to make the save.

Solo excels in both areas as this video shows.

She is quite simply, the best in the world at her position

In addition to being great at commanding her box and coming off her line, Solo is also one of the world’s premier shot stoppers.

The combination of these traits makes her the best goalkeeper in the world.

Check out this save from the 2008 Olympic Gold medal match against Brazil which was a major factor in the U.S.’s win.

John D. Halloran

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2 Responses to 8 Reasons You Gotta Love Hope Solo

  1. DE Dupuis on July 30, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    There’s much to like about Solo.
    She was of course completely correct in 2007, she should never have been benched.
    Brandi does seem really interested in making the current team seem lesser in comparison with the great teams she played on – Brandi’s wrong about this, this current team would beat them easily – the game has moved along a long way.
    Solo is commanding and aggressive, and an amazing athlete, but (and I’m always sorry to disagree with you JD), she is not a great shot stopper; she just isn’t. She got her hand on both French goals, and both went in. The sun was in her eyes – Pia was joking right?
    The USWNT will win neither because of or in spite of Solo. For the great team she plays on, she is about average – which is really saying something.
    If she were exactly the same, but not quite so good looking, she would command much less attention. That she is a good story, is a big part of the story. Having said this, she’ll probably go out a almost single handedly win the Gold. She did assist nicely on Alex’s goal against France.

    • WPM on August 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      DE, I have to disagree with you. Solo is probably the best shot stopper in the world. Look at the international keepers, only LeBlanc comes close and she is sitting on the bench for Canada. None of the US backups are close either. Watch the videos from the Algarve cup. Barnhart, while underrated is not Solo. She gave up a few goals Solo would have saved. Loiden isn’t any better than Barnhart. Ashlyn Harris is a good shot stopper but she lacks a lot the other skills (punting, coming off the line, etc.) that Solo brings.

      It is a shame that WPS folded because Bianca Henninger would have been playing for the Independence this year. Many people think she is the eventual replacement for Hope Solo.

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