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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hope Solo: We Did Not Choke Against Japan in Finals

The U.S. women’s national team has been criticized for blowing 1-0 and 2-1 leads against Japan in the finals of the World Cup before losing on penalty kicks. The theme from most of the media has been that the team choked. What’s worse is that some people feel as if criticizing the team for choking is the ultimate sign of equality because it’s how the men would be treated. I find that to be nonsense, but that’s mainly because I feel like people are too quick to criticize the team that failed rather than praise the team that was victorious. Goalie Hope Solo also disagrees with that sentiment.

Appearing on SportsCenter, Solo responded to the critics. “I’ve been asked ‘Did you guys choke?’ so I think we’re getting criticized,” Solo acknowledged. “I don’t believe we choked. For so long people had been saying that our team has the best defense, we’re more athletically gifted, and we like to get the ball forward and find Abby’s head and that’s how we win.”

“Well in the final, we finally gave the world what they wanted,” Solo continued. “We were a possession-oriented team that attacked in different varieties, and unfortunately we didn’t come out on top. But it truly was our best game in the final of the World Cup in front of 60,000 people. So did we choke? I don’t think we choked, but everybody else who doesn’t truly know the game likes to say we did because of the penalty kicks.”

It’s great to hear Solo say that because the reality is there are very few soccer fans in the country, yet everyone professed to be an expert who understood the game during the World Cup finals. Regardless, we know one thing for certain: the U.S. women gained millions of fans during the tournament. Solo says she won’t get too carried away with her newfound celebrity status.

“In terms of the immediate future, I still have a World Cup to win. I still have four years of preparation, we have the Olympics next year, and it’s not like I have time for all this entertainment, crazy rock star-status buzz,” she said. “We have qualifying coming up in January, I have a league to play in, there’s so much going on in my professional career, and that’s ultimately all I want to do.”

Wow, in an age where athletes are fighting to be in commercials, land endorsement deals, and gain notoriety, here you have someone willing to turn it all down. That’s the type of focus we truly love. Of course she did say it while making media rounds on ESPN Tuesday, but nevertheless it’s a great approach if she sticks to it.



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