Hope Solo | Algarve Cup and Beyond

I thought it would be a little boring between tournaments, but so far that doesn’t seem to be the case. At least if you are a Hope fan. After winning the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in a decisive fashion Hope and the NT went on to beat New Zealand in one of the worst wins you’ll see. That sour win was soon followed by the Algarve Cup. The third most competitive after the World Cup and Olympics.  While we didn’t have a long winning streak there we did have around a nine year streak of making it to the finals. Which…we didn’t.

I came out of that tournament with two thoughts. Three thoughts really. First, Sweden has taken a big step back with their current squad.  I don’t think it is so much Germany and the US taking steps forward which caused such lopsided wins. We both were just taking care of business. Sweden did not hold up their end of it defensively and more shocking to me offensively. What happened Lotta? Both teams had more than enough reasons to want to perform well after tough losses but only we seemed to show up for this game.

My second thought is a little controversial. Yes, Germany won the tournament. I still think the US was the harder team for Japan to face and as I said above, Germany’s win over Sweden says as little as ours did.

We once again beat ourselves on offense against Japan. There is no reason why Morgan did not put two of those away besides the fact she just didn’t. They were unforced mistakes. Just like in the WC.  That isn’t a Japan thing. We go through spells of that even against bad teams and it is always internally caused.

On the flip-side, unlike Germany, we were able to play not our best game ever (we played better possession against Japan in the WC for example) and still put up a good defensive effort and limited their opportunities. Our error which led to their only goal was dependent on a defender falling down and knocking her head against someone’s knee so she couldn’t get up quickly and resume her mark. That hole would not normally have been there. I realize Japan specializes in those set pieces. Guess what? We held them to one chance and that one depended on a cracked skull to happen.

Even while Japan controlled the tempo we continued to have no trouble making opportunities for ourselves that we should have put away. Something Japan couldn’t do against us. Japan had an easier time offensively against Germany. Our own offense will eventually work. I do believe this because Morgan won’t let us down again. And unlike what Japan faced against Germany we have have Hope Solo.

While our whole team looked off against Japan everyone says that Hope looked to be the exception. She was focused and ready for anything…besides her far post guard getting knocked out. There won’t be a scoring frenzy with her in goal no matter what. See you next month, Aya. See you next month.

My final thought is that Hope still has that quad wrap on and didn’t play in the Sweden game. I’m not a doctor and I know for us that third place, while better than fourth, doesn’t mean anything. It is first or nothing really. So there are reasons why they gave time to the backup keeper which isn’t on its own unusual when the true prize is already lost anyway.

I’d still prefer it if the wrap was off and she was punting with her right leg again. The injury isn’t responsible for any goals allowed, but I’d feel much better if it were gone. Hopefully after the upcoming Japan games she’ll have some time for training regularly with the Sounders and shed that last injury.

Enough of that. What else is going on? Well Hope had some time off between tournaments so of course she spent maybe a day home and otherwise has been jet-setting around. She did an interview with Fox Sports radio right before the Japan game (and got to be a bit of a fangirl herself at one point). She went from the Algarve Cup to Barcelona and spoke at the Global Sports Forum.

She mentioned back when the first league folded in the mid 2000s she had looked into playing on a lower division men’s team in Saint Louis. She ended up in Sweden instead as we all know. FIFA doesn’t allow women to play with men, but Hope thinks that if the top women try out (think of Marta and her small number of peers around the world) and could make the team in a lower men’s division they should be allowed to.

Of course the men all laugh but the world is full of insecure men laughing. Let tryouts determine who can play. A display of skills. Don’t let people’s insecurities set policy. I know that a team of women tend to not do well even against younger men, but the best of the best individual women should prove different in lower divisions. One of the best keepers in the MLS is only 5’9″. Hope wasn’t talking MLS level, but it proves that talent should be measured, not a gender or eyeball test. (off soapbox). Everyone said she was well spoken and a good representative of American athletes there at the forum. I don’t doubt it. She’s been a national treasure the last ten months. Those haters from 2007 are probably baffled at the turn of fate.

After that she did a stint at home where she was awesome and gave out some purple kits to local fans there in the Seattle area. Then she did some kind of shoot with Gatorade in Florida along with Cam Newton. Something with Vogue too.

She will be up in my neck of the world Saturday March 17th signing autographs at the Sports Collectors Convention in the Chicago area. The only female athlete there signing, only soccer player too as far as I can tell. She is commanding the pricetag of an NFL star. Damn straight.

She has to be up here for something more than a signing, but who knows what that is. She might give more purple kits away, but the chances of me being a half hour from wherever she is is slim. Oh well. I’d much rather see her play live than get an autograph or even the purple kit. Ok, the purple kit comes close. Ok, all three are unlikely to ever happen to me. It took me how many years just to watch the Bulls play in the United Center and I STILL have not seen Rose play live. I am more likely to have money for a Sounders kit before any of that. I accept my fate and move on.

It was announced this week she is going to be the female face of the high-end watchmaker Seiko. The first women to represent the brand in years. Landon Donovan does the same for the men’s line. Got to hand it to her people for finding classy companies to align with. She’s got her career well in hand on the field and off.

Finally, this Sunday Hope will be on Cartoon Networks anti-bullying special “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” Sunday March 18th for a prerecored thing that will open up with a message from the President. I have to give CN props for connecting with female athletes and not just female celebrities which is usually the case. On Hope’s part I would of course expect her to be involved with something like this. She went with Chaz and the gang to his GLSEN event last year and talked about bullying. Not sure if she is sharing any of that now or just relaying other kids’ stories. Anyhow, so happy to have her willing to spend her time like this.

Oh, and a little old thing called 1,000,000 likes on Facebook was cracked this week too. Not a big deal or anything…


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