Hope Solo became the first goalkeeper in history to register 200 international appearances on Saturday in the United States women’s national team’s 1-0 victory over France at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The feat is one which was on the radar for some time, but Solo, now 35, put in one of her best performances yet. Solo was officially credited with five saves, but several of them were the type of world-class, game-saving stops which has made her the de facto best goalkeeper in the world for the better part of a decade.
“As a goalkeeper, I think she’s the best one in the world,” France coach Philippe Bergeroo said before the match. “She’s always good for the U.S. even when the team is in difficult times.”
Bergeroo may have known what his team was about to get into with the United States. France dominated the first half, but Solo stood tall, tipping Wendie Renard’s thundering header over the bar in the 16th minute and stone-walling Marie Laure Delie just before halftime, ensuring that there was no rebound to be pounced on. Solo joked postgame that she “laid an egg” on the save.
Great Photo of Solo's save from AP's Eugenio Savio: pic.twitter.com/w1WmTWH0im
— Anne M. Peterson (@AnnieMPeterson) August 7, 2016
“She was getting free and I knew she was going to crack a shot as soon as she saw the goal, so I just tried to close her as quickly as I could,” Solo told media postgame. “And I as I closed her — some people think she went through my legs on purpose because it was the only part that was open because I had her closed down — I don’t really think so, I think she just tried to crack a shot.”
U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg told media on Friday that you want Solo in goal “when sh** hits the fan.” It may not quite have hit the fan on Saturday, but it dangled near it, and Solo came up big once again.
And yes, of course, she heard the “ZIKA!” chants from the crowd once again — those will be even louder Tuesday, with a sold-out stadium for Brazil flowing into Manaus for the second match of a doubleheader — taunting which is taking place in response to Solo’s outspokenness — some considered it mocking — over the mosquito-borne virus which dominated headlines in the buildup to the Games. Solo has taken everything in stride.
“I’m just being myself playing soccer,” she said. “They can love me or hate me, I’m just going to continue doing the same things.”
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