On Sunday morning, US Women's National Team goalie Hope Solo will get the chance she didn't in 2007 as she faces Brazil. Since the last Women's World Cup, Solo has faced Brazil four times, keeping the Brazilian side off the board each time, including the gold medal match in the 2008 Olympics. But it's Sunday's match, on soccer's biggest stage, that could provide the sweetest redemption for Solo, topped only by a Women's World Cup title.
The four shutouts only reinforce that she should've been starting as the US battled Brazil in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup; Solo was unexpectedly benched by former manager Greg Ryan in favor of the more experienced Brianna Scurry, with the Americans falling to Brazil, 4-0. It was a move that left Solo stunned and angry, feeling as though Ryan had turned his back on her. After the game, she lashed out, speaking with emotion while criticizing Ryan for the controversial move.
None of that matters anymore: Solo is back in the US Women's National Team's good graces, Ryan is out of the picture and the American side has a blockbuster matchup in an elimination game on Sunday. Since the 2007 benching, Solo has been outstanding in net, developing into one of the best, if not the best, keepers in the world. In the 2011 Women's World Cup, she's conceded just two goals, both coming off dead-ball situations in the Americans' final group stage match against Sweden. A penalty put Solo in a tough spot after a miscue on the back-line and a free kick took an unlucky deflection later, adding up to a 2-1 loss for the US and forcing Sunday's quarterfinal match with Brazil.
With Solo in net, the US is in good hands on Sunday. Head coach Pia Sundhage has the confidence in Solo that Ryan didn't, and the American side will ride Solo as far as she takes them in the 2011 Women's World Cup. And it doesn't get tougher than a quarterfinal test against Brazil for the USA.
Solo and the USA take on Brazil at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.