Hope Solo: On Olympics, Title IX, Amy LePeilbet, Sydney Leroux

Solo is goalkeeper for the U.S. National team that will be trying for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in London, July 27-Aug. 12. She is a three-time Olympian and played in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup.

On the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the 30-year-old Solo discussed the impact of that groundbreaking law on her career and looked ahead toward the Olympics. The U.S. team will play Canada is its Olympic send-off game June 30 in Sandy, Utah.

How different are the World Cup and the Olympics:

"The World Cup for soccer players is kind of the lifeline for your sport, the epitome. You want that World Cup (title) before you retire. I don’t have a World Cup.

"For the Olympics, you’re a part of something entirely different. It’s more of a competition between countries for who has the most medals, not between soccer players from country to country. I have more spirit for Team USA, more pride for being an American. It’s a whole different ball game."

Do you want to face World Cup champion Japan in the Olympics?

"I enjoy playing Japan. I have a lot of respect for them. I’m confident we’ll come out on top. I’m confident in our team. It’s not easy. The game has changed a lot. Federations from all over the world have put money into women’s sports, which is wonderful we’re talking about this because it’s the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Not you see female soccer players not only in America but all over the world being able to make a living. That’s why teams like Japan are so much better than they used to be."

What does Title IX means to you?

"It broke barriers, it changed the rules, it also provided opportunities for women. It means a great deal to me. You can’t really put it lightly. I wouldn’t be where I am today if the law was never passed. So I’m grateful. I’m not only the athlete I am today but also the person I am today because of Title IX.”

How much has changed since the last U.S. World Cup win in 1999?

"What we have done for the game since then is off the charts. This last year we don’t win the World Cup, but there are more people aware of women’s soccer not because of the photo shoots, not because of the stardom, because of the quality of the sport on the field. So for me the sport has come a long, long ways since 1999."

What does it mean to join Robin Roberts, Ali Vincent, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Billie Jean King and Picabo Street as a Woman of Inspiration?

"I’m honored to be here to be recognized by your peers as a positive influence for females world-wide. I didn’t get into this job to do that, but I’m more honored to be doing that than to be winning gold medals and World Cup trophies."

Your team beat Japan 4-1 five days ago. What does that tell you about Olympic readiness?

"Friendly games are a whole different ball game than when we step on the field in London or on world stages. We’re giving players experience, we’re trying different lineups, different formations. So you don’t know what you’re going to get. I expect to see a whole better Japan team in London than what we did in Sweden."

Amy LePeilbet, who played at Arizona State, again is one of the U.S. starting defenders like in the 2011 World Cup. Talk about her play?

"What I appreciate the most about Amy is she hasn’t had an easy walk onto this team. She forced the coaches to look at her in different positions. She can play center back or on the left or right side. She kept fighting and made a name for herself. She’s one of the most reliable starting backs I’ve played behind. She’s smart, she thinks the game, she’s obviously athletic. And she just has defensive pride, and that’s one thing that’s overlooked a lot in sports. Defenders don’t get much praise. It’s just how the game is. But she takes pride in not letting the goal go on and those are the defenders I want to play behind.

"I’ll be diving to try and block a shot, and I see her flying in behind me just in case it does hit my hands or goes over me ready to take it off her face. That’s a die-hard defender."

Will the U.S. team play a different style at the Olympics?

"I’m really proud of the way we played at the World Cup. In the final against Japan, we had most possession and many opportunities on goal. We didn’t close out the game when we needed to. Moving forward to the Olympics, we’re playing similar. We have more dominance up front with Abby (Wambach) and Alex (Morgan) playing so well together. But you still us going around the outside. We’re varied our attack a little. We added maybe one more element. But I hope we play the same way we did in the World Cup."

Sydney Leroux went to high school here while playing for Sereno Soccer Club. How do you see her role at the Olympics?

"She’s going to be our closer. We are relying on our youngest player to come in with 10 minutes left in the game, all the pressure is on her shoulders because she knows she’s going into to score a goal. You’re going to see Sydney Leroux be able to do it because she plays with a chip on her shoulder because she’s out to prove everybody wrong." 

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    ^^^ omg same
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    Well said, Hope Solo. Well said.
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