By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy
With the pivotal World Cup game of the Americans versus Portugal just a day away, sports fans were greeted yesterday with sad news about one of America’s finest players. Olympian Hope Solo was arrested on domestic violence and assault charges at her sister’s home in Seattle. Solo who is a heralded goalie is much more than that. She’s a bona fide star in a sport sorely in need of one. While soccer enjoys a world-wide popularity, its reception in the U.S. has been … well … muted. Lacking the violent collisions of football (for the most part) and the non-stop artistry of professional basketball, American males have routinely turned up their noses at what some call derisively “Communist kickball.” Add that to this year’s controversial move of leaving the greatest American male soccer star off the U.S. team and you have a sport that only an advancement to the final round of the World Cup playoffs could whet the public’s appetite the way American football does.
Solo earned her star power following her brilliant but controversial Olympic performance. In 2005, she became the Americans starting goalie and recorded 7 shutout in 7 matches. In 2007 at the women’s World Cup, while facing the best he world had to offer, she allowed just two goals in four games while recording 3 consecutive shutouts. No mean feat when you patrol a goal net about half the size of New Jersey. When she was benched in the semi-final game against Brazil for a reputed attitude problem, Brazil blew out the U.S. team 4-0. Solo was not the strong silent type castigating her coach and her replacement for the move and earning the ire of her more team-oriented teammates. Solo rebounded from that controversy and helped the U.S. win gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics solidifying her as a top — if not the top — goalie in the world. She also played professionally for several teams and is now starting for the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League.