World Football

Hope Solo's Absence Won't Ruin USA's Chances in Algarve Cup

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 13: Goalkeeper Hope Solo #1 of the U.S. Womens National Team plays against the Scotland Women's National Team at LP Field on February 13, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2013

Hope Solo has been in the news recently, as the 911 call she made the day before marrying Jerramy Stevens has hit the Internet. But the real reason we should all be talking about Hope Solo is that she isn't participating in the Algarve Cup due to a wrist injury.

Luckily, the U.S. women should be just fine without her.

For one thing, the team allowed Iceland just one shot on goal on Wednesday and generally controlled possession throughout. The United States should control the ball against most teams, and the defense will stand stout in front of backup keeper Jill Loyden.

For another, the team selected by head coach Tom Sermanni isn't lacking for dangerous offensive players. It's headlined by Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach and includes Sydney Leroux and Christen Press at forward and Heather O'Reilly and Megan Rapinoe out on the wings.

The United States scored three goals against Iceland. Had Morgan and Wambach actually finished on the slew of chances they created, the United States could have easily scored six or seven.

So, no, offense shouldn't be a problem. Even if Loyden struggles—and I don't expect she will—this U.S. team is capable of simply outscoring most opponents.

When the team faces China, the U.S. should be able to control the game and win fairly easily. The Chinese aren't to be underestimated, but they're hardly an elite team.

No, the real test begins Monday, when the team faces a tough Sweden squad. That's when we'll truly get to see whether Solo is missed.

There's no doubt Solo is a talented player and one of the top female keepers in the world, but I don't think she is as instrumental to this team's success as players like Morgan, Wambach or Rapinoe.

And for as valuable as those three are, it seems like someone new is always playing the hero. I thought O'Reilly and Boxx were the team's top players against Iceland. The sheer depth of this team is pretty incredible.

It was wise of Solo to get her wrist taken care of now so she's good to go for World Cup qualifying. That—not the Algarve Cup—is the big prize, even if this particular tournament is the biggest in the women's international game behind the Olympics and World Cup.

The United States will be just fine without Solo, at least for now. They'll be happy to have her back, but they're still the best team at this tournament without her.

 

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