London 2012 Soccer: Hope Solo Must Be Perfect for US Women to Defeat Japan

Andrew BurtonCorrespondent IIIAugust 8, 2012

PORTLAND, OR - SEPTEMBER 22:  (Editor's Note: This image was converted to black and white.) Goal Keeper Hope Solo #1 of the United States warms up against Canada during the final match of the Celebration Series on September 22, 2011 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

In both the quarterfinals and semifinals, Japan has scored two goals—Japanese forward Yuki Ogimi has scored one goal in each of those games. If USA wants to win the gold, Hope Solo has to be perfect against Japan tomorrow, and it all starts with preventing Ogimi from scoring another goal.  

In the quarterfinals, Team USA and Solo looked excellent. They shut out the New Zealand team and moved on to Canada.

This is where we saw the mortal side of the American team. Canadian forward Christine Sinclair was just scoring on Solo at will. However, the Canadian team did not show up to support her and USA came back to win it by a final of 4-3.

Now no disrespect to the Canadian team or Sinclair, but Japan is cut from a different cloth. It has so many weapons at its disposal and it can hurt you on both sides of the ball—especially defense.

Through five games, Japan has only allowed two goals. Rather than making the first move, it will let its opponents strike first in anticipation of a mistake. That's when the Japanese will go in for the score and likely hold it right there. 

Japan has been strong throughout the tournament, but it hasn't scored more than two goals in a single match. Tomorrow is no different—it won't break out against USA and score three goals, especially with Hope standing in its way. It is her sole obligation to save the ball and try to gain some momentum for her team to capitalize and score.

Because of Japan's laid-back-and-strike offense, it is Solo's job to keep as many soccer balls out of that net as she can, and she's highly capable of doing so.

At 5'9", Solo puts her body in a position to block a shot at any given angle, and so far, it's worked for her and her team. She will need to keep her head in the game for every second on the clock and remain aware of ball placement because the pressure's on.

However, Hope excels under pressure. 

Don't get me wrong, there have been times when Solo has looked like she's playing in the Police Athletic League, but majority of her time on the field, she looks brilliant. The brilliant side of her needs to show up in the next match—otherwise, USA is in for a big upset. 

Plain and simple, Japan is playing its best soccer right now and it is a huge threat to USA. But the bottom line is defense will come out victorious in the final's match, and hopefully, Hope prevails.