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Hope Solo Wanted to Face Japan in World Cup Finals

Hope SoloWhile most Americans will be rooting for the U.S. in the World Cup Finals, there are several people who feel Japan is the sentimental favorite. Even U.S. goal keeper Hope Solo feels that way.

After the U.S. beat France Wednesday in the semifinals, Solo said she was rooting for Japan to beat Sweden.

“I think with everything they’ve been through, they’re the sentimental favorites,” Solo said. “Plus, I have some good friends on the team.”

Solo’s reference is to the devastating series of earthquakes that took place in March, killing hundreds and destroying cities.

Japan’s emergence in the World Cup is a surprise; this is the country’s first appearance in the tournament, and they already reached the finals. Both Solo and coach Pia Sundhage have acknowledged that Japan has improved and that the team they’re facing the finals is vastly improved from the one they faced in friendlies.

Pia Sundhage Sings Simon and Garfunkel to Media (Video)

U.S. women’s national soccer team coach Pia Sundhage broke out in song during her press conference Friday. She explained that she sings sometimes to help soothe the team. She actually has a really good voice too. Check out Pia Sundhage singing Simon and Garfunkel and tell me you can do better:

You may recall that Sundhage is not the only singer on the team, though it’s hard to top Sundhage’s voice. Thanks to Yahoo! Sports for the video and background

New York Flash Tickets in Demand Thanks to Abby Wambach, U.S. National Team

Think all the attention and publicity the U.S. women’s soccer team is receiving isn’t having an effect? Think again.

While the U.S. team prepares for its finals game Sunday against Japan in the World Cup, tickets for some Women’s Professional Soccer games are flying fast. The Western New York Flash has a game scheduled against magicJack Wednesday, and 8,500 tickets have already been sold. That blows away the Flash’s average home attendance of 1,200 fans.

According to WHEC in Rochester, 4,000 tickets had been sold has of Thursday and that amount had doubled as of Friday. The stadium holds 13,500 people but with the tickets in such demand, they’re considering adding bleachers to accommodate additional fans.

Fans who show up to the game will have the chance to see Alex Morgan, as well as Brazilian player Marta, both of whom play for the Flash. Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, and Hope Solo all play for magicJack, which has the most representatives on the national team. Even though Wambach plays for the away team, the game is a homecoming for her. She’s from Rochester, and the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive an Abby Wambach bobblehead. Pretty cool, right?

To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the star players aren’t able to play. Traveling from the World Cup in Germany Sunday to New York for a WPS game would be tough, but it would be worthwhile to serve the new fans.

Venture Capitalist Stefan Pfister Proposed to Hope Solo with Poster at Semifinal

Hope SoloThe U.S. women’s soccer team is in the finals of the World Cup and set to play Japan Sunday. The team has gained enormous popularity since its comeback win over Brazil in the quarterfinals, and the hype has continued.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo is one of the most recognizable players on the team. Not only is she possibly the best keeper in the world, but she’s also quite outspoken. She frequently appears in interviews and she’s become the face of the team. Needless to say, she’s also captured plenty of male attention.

One fan who is particularly smitten is Stefan Pfister, a venture capitalist from Dusseldorf, Germany. Pfister has fallen in love with Solo and attended the semifinal game Wednesday to show his love for her.

“Hope Solo is a beautiful woman and a wonderful athlete,” Pfister said in an interview this week. “She shows that you can be feminine and athletic and the best in your chosen sport. I saw during the last game that a fan had written a banner which proposed marriage so I am going to do the same, except that mine will be bigger and better.

“I am not necessarily expecting a positive response but it is a genuine offer,” added Pfister, who claims to have homes in five different countries. “I just want to show my appreciation for her class as a person and ability as a footballer.”

Well the game was played Wednesday, and true to his word Pfister was in attendance with a poster proposing to Solo. Check it out:

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Is Hope Solo’s Hamstring Injury an Issue?

Hope Solo

Hope Solo is one of the star players on the U.S. team. As their goal keeper, she had clean sheets against North Korea and Colombia, gave up two goals in a loss to Sweden, and then two goals (one shouldn’t have happened) against Brazil. Solo has been spectacular in the net, stopping a penalty kick in the shootout against Brazil to help the U.S. advance to the semifinals of the World Cup. She even managed to hold France down in the semis giving up one goal, and that was with a minor injury.

Right before the match started against France, it was reported that Solo had tweaked her hamstring in warmups. It was reported as a minor injury, but it still can be a problem. You always want to be at full-strength especially for knockout games. Not being at your best can be the difference between advancing and going home, so this could be critical in the finals regardless of the opponent. The good news is the squad will have three days off before the finals.

UPDATE: Solo also had the quote of the year after the match. Asked where the team gets its confidence from, she said “confidence comes from our preparation and because we know we’re damn good.”

With an attitude like that, any surprise the team has been this successful?

Abby Wambach Goal Video – One of the Best Moments in U.S. Soccer History

It’s hard to comprehend how dramatic the tying goal scored by Abby Wambach was for the U.S. women’s soccer team Sunday if you didn’t watch the entire game.

To understand what made it so special, you have to recognize that the U.S. was playing at a woman disadvantage for almost the entire second half after Rachel Buehler was sent off by referee Jacqui Melksham. You have to understand that the U.S. team was screwed by a bad call that gave Brazil a second penalty kick in the 65th minute. You have to understand that the reason they were playing in the 122nd minute is because a Brazilian player laid on the ground faking an injury for four minutes before springing off the stretcher and sprinting back onto the field. You also have to understand that the U.S. didn’t really threaten to score for most of the match until Megan Rapinoe sent that beautiful cross just over the reach of the Brazilians to set up Abby Wambach’s winning header.

That goal by Abby Wambach from Megan Rapinoe was easily one of the most thrilling ones I’ve ever seen. Landon Donovan’s goal to beat Algeria in the World Cup was special, and this was too.

Even though it was only a quarterfinals win, it feels like this U.S. team is destined to win it all. It’s impossible to come back in that fashion only to fall short of their ultimate goal. The women’s team never gave up and they will win it all.

Thanks to Blazers Edge for the video

Referee Jacqui Melksham Made Several Controversial Calls that Almost Cost U.S.

Australian soccer referee Jacqui Melksham was one minute and a spectacular goal from becoming one of the most notorious sporting officials in U.S. soccer history. Melksham made a series of controversial calls in the U.S.-Brazil World Cup quarterfinal game, most of which went against the U.S. She was bailed out after the U.S. came back to win 5-3 on penalty kicks.

In the 65th minute, Melksham gave Rachel Buehler a red card for taking down Marta. The send off put the U.S. a woman down for almost half the match. Then on the penalty kick, Hope Solo stoned Cristiane. The problem is Melksham decided there was encroachment before the kick, so she gave Brazil a second shot (watch video of the sequence). Marta converted on the second chance to tie the game. But that wasn’t all.

Melksham (and all the refs) missed that Maurine was offside on Marta’s second goal that made it 2-1. And as Grant Wahl points out, she missed a second hand ball by Carli Lloyd that should have gone against the U.S.

Melksham was atrocious in this match. Given the poor reputation FIFA has amassed for match fixing scandals, bribery, lack of instant replay, and missed calls, have a bad ref shouldn’t come as a surprise. She is just extremely ucky that the U.S. won otherwise she’d be notorious.