Hope Springs "Internal" as Solo Finds Humility in World Cup Loss

Sherman L. McCleskyCorrespondent IJuly 18, 2011

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JULY 17:  Hope Solo of USA can't hide her disappointment as she holds the 3rd place player of the tournament award after the the FIFA Women's World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
Joern Pollex/Getty Images

“It was the wrong decision, and I think anyone who knows anything about the game knows that. There’s no doubt in my mind I would had made those saves .  And the fact of the matter is it’s not 2004 anymore. It’s not 2004. And it’s now 2007, and you have to live in the present.  And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past. It doesn’t what somebody had did in a Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters, and that’s what I think”

-Hope Solo

This quote came out just after the US Women soccer team had been eliminated from the 2007 Women’s World Cup. Back then, she was young and arrogant, so full of herself that she’d thought that she could had won the World Cup all by herself. Sunday, she had the opportunity to do that in front of a crowd of 48,000-plus and a worldwide television audience in the millions…

And as fast as you can say “penalty kicks," it was over. The women’s soccer team from Japan had won the World Cup.

As Solo was leaving the field, she probably was asking herself, “What went wrong?’’ The answer lies within her most infamous quote.

“It was the wrong decision, and I think anyone who knows anything about the game knows that.”

I agree. Amy Rodriguez, who’d scored a combined three goals against Japan in past matchups, should had started and played in that game.  But we can’t live in the past now, can we?

“There’s no doubt in my mind I would had made those saves.”

While the Japanese goalie was jumping into the fray, trying to grab any ball that was too close to her net for comfort, Solo sat back in her net and watched her defense mishandle the ball twice, leading to two preventive goals.

No, in retrospect, she could not make those saves in 2007 simply because a more experienced Solo didn’t make such saves in 2011.

“And you can’t live by big names”

Well spoken, coming from a woman who had a fan in the crowd holding a sign that’d read, “Marry me HOPE. I am SOLO.”  

Wow! What a small name she has now.

I can go on and on about this but I won’t. Why?  Because the last time I’d prepared this article, I’d accidentally erased it, so this revamped one will be short.

What Solo had done in 2007 was a horrible thing. It had led to the release of a legendary goaltender and a firing of a prominent coach, and in its aftermath, placed her in a position of which she, ironically enough, could not defend, the very idea that she could win the World Cup all by herself.

So it’s 2011, and Solo is in net on penalty kicks. She’d gotten her wish. Before a crowd of 40,000-plus and a television crowd in the millions, she tried to win the World Cup all by herself…and she failed.

Now, as Solo had woken up this morning, I probably knew what she was thinking.  She was thinking the same things Briana Scurry was thinking after the 2007 World Cup. Could I have done something different? Did my coach make the right decisions? Will I be able to fight off my eventual feisty rival to remain as the starting goaltender for the next World Cup?

She had discovered an epiphany. She is now walking in Scurry's shoes, and they feel uncomfortable. 

I sense great humility in Solo now that she had seen all sides of her then ignorant remarks. She walks away from this World Cup experience a much wiser woman. I see her rising to the level of her predecessor, Scurry, the most prolific goaltender in US Women’s soccer history.

The saddest part of this story lies within the fact that she had to learn this lesson the old fashioned way…

She'd earned it.

(Source of quotes courtesy of Wikipedia)