The Women's World Cup garnered widespread attention on Sunday after a thrilling win by the United States Women's National Team in the quarterfinal round. Facing a tough Brazil team, the USA was on the ropes, trailing by a goal in the waning moments of extra time. An Abby Wambach header with just seconds to spare saved the Americans, and Hope Solo left her mark on the game in the penalty shootout, stopping a try as the USA came back to win.
Solo spoke to Dave "Softy" Mahler on KJR as he was filling in for Jim Rome on Monday. The following quotes come from the interview, which can be found here.
On Monday, I wrote about how Sunday's Women's World Cup quarterfinal matchup between the United States and Brazil opened eyes to women's soccer and soccer as a whole. It was something not lost on Solo, who saw an outpouring of support from athletes in other sports and celebrities.
"I'm starting to get told that LeBron James tweeted about it and Tom Hanks. It's hit the NBA, it's hit the NFL, it's hit the celebrities hands. I mean, it's all over the place and we had no idea," she said while shifting focus to the task at hand. "We're just taking care of business here in Germany, trying to get the job done and we have two more games to do it. So for us, it's getting control of our emotions and trying not to just remain in yesterday. We have to move forward."
Sunday was a big moment for team USA and for Solo herself. It was a fact not lost on the goalkeeper from Richland, and she talked about soaking it all in on the pitch in Germany.
"I don't want to forget it. That was a moment in history. Never had that happen, coming from behind, coming back from a man down, all the controversial calls, the officiating, the emotions, the highs, the lows; that's a moment I never want to forget," Solo told Mahler. "I took a moment to myself before the penalty kicks and I sat on the field and I took every aspect of what was going on around me. I took it in and I locked it in and I will never forget that moment."
The 2011 Women's World Cup is a chance at redemption for Solo, and Sunday's match was her biggest moment. Dealing with a variety of personal problems in 2007, including her father's death, made the tournament difficult, compounded by a confusing benching for the United States' semifinal match with Brazil.
"Everybody knows four years ago -- everything that happened in 2007 -- I didn't get to enjoy the process, enjoy every step, enjoy the moment, enjoy the crowd, enjoy the emotional side of the game. That was because I was grieving," she said, remembering her father. "I lost my father. Fast forward four years later. I took a moment to enjoy everything around me, the crowd, the energy in the stadium, to see how far along women's soccer, women's sports, have come and you felt it. "
And while she did take in the moment, Solo admitted it got the best of her at times. Key decisions went against the US, including an infraction on Solo's penalty kick save in the second half that allow Brazil to try for a second time. She plays with emotion, but knows it can be a bad thing when emotions boil over.
"I play with emotions. I play with intensity, with passion. That can be a false line. It can go one of two ways: You can get too involved in the emotion of the game and not continue your focus, not play to the best of your ability. Or you can manage those emotions," she said when discussing the controversial calls. "I found myself extremely overwhelmed with anger towards the refs, towards the Brazilians, to the players, to their antics, to their unsportsmanship. I found myself just incredibly angry. I knew there was still a way to win this. I did everything I could to manage my emotions, to stay focused and stay in the zone. That's what I was able to do."
Solo was confident in her team, and believes it's their time to shine. It's been 12 years since the 1999 Women's World Cup that put the USA on the map, and Solo feels like it's their time to take the torch.
"There is something special about this team and I do believe this is the team to do it. We want to write our own storyline. We want to write our own destiny. To be honest, we're tired of hearing about 99. It's time for a new team to come in here and make history," Solo said before signing off with a bit of confidence, "All right, we'll be bringing home the cup."