Who Is Hope Solo?
Born in 1981, Hope Solo became one of the top goalies in soccer during her college years at the University of Washington. She helped the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team bring home the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and again four years later at the Summer Games in London. In 2015, Solo delivered a near-record performance to help the U.S. team win the FIFA Women's World Cup. Her time with the national team ended after controversial comments during the 2016 Olympics, and she later filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer over unequal payment for male and female players.
Hope Amelia Solo was born on July 30, 1981, in Richland, Washington. Although she rose to fame as a gold medal-winning goalie, Solo started out as a forward on the Richland High School soccer team. She scored 109 goals in this position, and was twice named an All-American by Parade magazine.
Solo moved into the goalkeeper spot for the University of Washington Huskies and went on to dominate the Pacific-10 conference. She earned NSCAA All-American honors in her last three years and took home a Hermann Award as a senior, finishing as her university's all-leader in shutouts and saves.
Joining the U.S. National Team
Solo was selected as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team in 2004, but she never made it on to the field in Athens. Despite this disappointment, she continued to excel in her sport. Solo became the top goalkeeper the following year, playing 1,054 minutes without permitting an opposing goal.
As a leading member of the U.S. National Team, Solo was irate when her coach decided to bench her for the semifinal match against Brazil during the 2007 World Cup. The Americans lost the game, and Solo publicly aired her frustration. "It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves," she told NBC Sports. After this outburst, Solo was let go from the team for the rest of the competition.
2008 Olympics and 2011 World Cup
Solo was back in fighting form the next year. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, she continually beat back the Brazilian attack to help the U.S. Women's Soccer Team win the gold medal.
In 2011, Solo recovered from a shoulder injury in time for the start of World Cup play. Following an early loss to Sweden, the U.S. women surged all the way to the final, before losing to Japan on penalty kicks. For her efforts, Solo won the Golden Glove Award, as the tournament's best goalkeeper, and the Bronze Ball Award for her overall play.
2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup
Just before the 2012 Olympics, Solo ran into trouble. She tested positive for a banned substance—a diuretic—and explained that she had taken the medication as part of a pre-menstrual treatment prescribed by her doctor, adding that she didn't know it contained the banned drug. After working with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Solo was given a warning for what she called "an honest mistake," and was cleared to compete at the Olympics. "As someone who believes in clean sport, I am glad to have worked with the USADA to resolve this matter, and I look forward to representing my country," she told NBC Sports.
At the 2012 Summer Games in London, to the roar of nearly 80,300 soccer fans—the largest soccer crowd in Olympics history—Solo won her second consecutive gold medal with the U.S. women's soccer team, in a revengeful, 2-1 victory against Japan. Solo showed no mercy during the match, stopping 12 of the 13 shots she faced. The victory marked the fourth of five Olympic titles won by the American women's squad since women's soccer was first included in the Olympics, in 1996.
Solo again was a force for the U.S. women's team during their triumphant run to the 2015 World Cup title. After allowing a goal in the opening match against Australia, she shut out the opposition for a near-record 540 minutes until Japan scored twice in the final. For her outstanding play, she won her second straight World Cup Golden Glove Award.
2016 Olympics and National Team Dismissal
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Solo earned her 200th career cap (international appearance) in an early win over France. However, she was criticized for allowing two goals in a draw vs. Colombia, and was unable to save her team when a quarterfinal loss to Sweden was decided by penalty kicks. Shortly afterward, she insisted that the best team did not win and called her opponents a "bunch of cowards" for their style of play.
The fallout from her commentary was greater than anticipated: On August 24, U.S. Soccer announced that Solo was being suspended for six months and that her contract would be terminated immediately.
In response, Solo released a statement that read: "For 17 years, I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women’s National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew how — with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world, not just for my country, but to elevate the sport for the next generation of female athletes. In those commitments, I have never wavered. And with so much more to give, I am saddened by the federation’s decision to terminate my contract."
'Dancing with the Stars' and Memoir
Hope Solo showed off another side of her personality in 2011, when she competed on Dancing with the Stars. Appearing on the show's 13th season, she danced against such celebrities as actor David Arquette, activist and author Chaz Bono, and talk show personality Ricki Lake. Solo did well enough with partner Maksim Chmerkovsky to make it to the show's semifinals. That same year, she raised some eyebrows by posing nude in ESPN magazine.
In August 2012, Solo published an autobiography with Ann Killion entitled, Solo: A Memoir of Hope, giving fans an inside look at her life and career.
Marriage and Personal Problems
Around this time, Solo began dating former pro football tight end Jerramy Stevens. The couple announced their engagement just two months later. On November 12, 2012, the night before their planned wedding, Stevens was arrested for investigation of assault following a physical altercation between eight people at a party. He was released soon after, when a Kirkland Municipal Court judge determined a lack of evidence in the case.
Early in the morning of June 21, 2014, Solo was arrested on two counts of domestic violence following a confrontation with her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew at their home in Kirkland, Washington. Although the judge dismissed the case on procedural grounds in January 2015, the star goalie encountered more trouble shortly afterward when her husband was arrested for driving a U.S. women's soccer team van while intoxicated, with Solo in the vehicle as a passenger. She was subsequently suspended from the team for 30 days.
Just before the start of the World Cup in June 2015, a new report surfaced with details about Solo's aggressive behavior toward family members and police during the previous summer's domestic violence incident. An appeal was filed, and in October 2015 a Washington state appeals court reinstated the domestic violence charges. Solo subsequently sought a legal review of the decision on the grounds of government misconduct. The charges were ultimately dismissed in May 2018.
In June 2019, Solo revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage while pregnant with twins the previous year, the complications resulting in the removal of one of her fallopian tubes.
Wage Discrimination Lawsuit and Commentator
In March 2016, Solo joined several of her teammates to file a complaint of wage discrimination against the United States Soccer Federation, citing inequities between its compensation for players on the women's and men's national teams. Two years later, she filed a federal lawsuit against the USSF.
Meanwhile, Solo ran for president of the USSF in early 2018, before losing to its vice president, Carlos Cordeiro.
Tapped to serve as a commentator for the BBC heading into the 2019 World Cup, Solo proved she remained as candid as ever with her comment that U.S. women's coach Jill Ellis "cracks under pressure."
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