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By | 2017-08-02T23:36:51+00:00 16 April 2015|Blog|19 Comments

I’m back in Seattle now, getting the new NWSL season underway with my team, the Seattle Reign. A lot has happened over the past couple weeks that I want to talk about, starting with our recent friendly against New Zealand.

But before jumping in, I want to take a moment to talk about the response to my first blog post. I was really, really nervous about putting myself out there, and how the whole thing would be received. The reaction was tremendous, overwhelming, and truly moving. I cannot say thank you enough to all of the fans out there for your support. It’s one of the many things in my life that I feel incredibly grateful for, and lucky to have.

RETURN TO ST. LOUIS

It was really great going back to St. Louis for the game against New Zealand. I had lived there in 2009 and ’10 when I played for the Athletica, and I have nothing but great memories of the city. I actually had a chance to spend Easter with some good friends of mine, incredible people who took great care of me when I was there, but who I hadn’t seen for years. That was really good.

Game day at Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, was a pretty amazing experience. It was a nice, sunny day, and everything about it was beautiful. The stadium was immaculate. The locker room was one of the nicest I’ve ever been in — it was painted Cardinals’ colors, and had nice recliners, big TVs, lots of outlets and friendly workers. It felt very different playing in the outfield of a baseball stadium, but pretty cool, too, especially overlooking the Arch. And of course, the crowd was awesome.

USWNT Fans

As far as the game went, domestic friendlies are a confidence booster for us, and a chance for the team to work on different variations in how we play. Three defenders scored goals for us, including the hometown girl (and my former Athletica teammate) Lori Chalupny, and I was really happy for her.

A GOALKEEPING GROOVE

When it comes to my training, a big change that hasn’t been talked about a lot is that I started working with a new goalkeeping coach about 10 weeks ago. My long-time coach, Paul Rogers, got a new job with the Houston Dynamo of the MLS, which was a great opportunity for him. But when our National Team head coach, Jill Ellis, told me the news, it was very disappointing, scary and worrisome. I couldn’t really believe it. I credit a lot of my gains over the past six years to working with Paul, and I honestly wasn’t confident that I could build a great rapport with a new coach with such little time prior to the World Cup.

But I did my best to embrace the change, and I’m excited by what I’ve experienced with the National Team’s new goalkeeper coach, Graeme Abel.

Hope Solo

It’s really, really difficult to find a great goalkeeper coach. Great goalkeeper coaches realize that each goalkeeper moves her body just a little bit differently, and uses techniques that benefit her individually. The best coaches know how to maximize each goalkeeper’s footwork, positioning, body shape, set shape and individual styles. They know how to motivate each keeper based on her personality. They know all the nitty, gritty details, all the tiny intricacies that people can’t see. And they’re great in breaking down video. They video-tape every session, and then recreate that session the next time out so that you can improve on what you learned on film. It’s kind of an ongoing process, more than just going out and striking balls and saying, “Hey, dive! Get up! Dive!” (Trust me, there are many goalkeeper coaches who use that style.)

Graeme is English and a former goalkeeper. He’s very technical, and very good with video work. He’s hard on me, which I need, but he also has a really upbeat personality, and a great energy about him that everybody on the team enjoys being around. I really like the work we’ve done so far, and I’m excited about where we’ll be by the time the World Cup gets here. And I’m even more excited for us to take the World Cup journey together.

SMILING IN SEATTLE

I’m home for a few weeks now before the National Team regroups in Southern California, and I’m enjoying being back. There’s nothing like being back home, waking up and making my own coffee, and then leaving for work in a beautiful city.

0416_Hope1

I’m in a really good spot in terms of my home team, the Seattle Reign. and there truly is no other team I’d rather play for. The team’s owners, Teresa and Bill Predmore, had a vision of being the best women’s pro club in the world, and I admire them for staying true to it. It’s been an honor to play for this organization, and I feel very lucky and very blessed to be here. It’s a great training environment, and everything — even playing on turf, which we do at Memorial Stadium in view of the Space Needle — is going to help prepare me for the World Cup.

The Reign has some of the most talented players in the world. Kim Little is one of the best I’ve ever played with. She was the leading scorer in the NWSL last season, and she’s incredible. We have another player, Jess Fishlock, from Wales, and she’s also amazing. They’re both just work-horses, passionate and filled with skills. They’re so much fun to play with, it’s contagious. Neither of their teams qualified for the World Cup, which is unfortunate because they’re the kind of players everyone would love to watch, and that players love to play against.

Every day at practice, it’s fun, awesome, and competitive. Our coach, Laura Harvey, is English and really wants to play the game of soccer the way everybody says they want to play, like Barcelona. But Laura doesn’t just say it. She really does coach us to play through the midfield, to always have numbers around the ball. We have creativity on the attack. We have movement off the ball. We have everybody playing defense. Everybody plays offense, and even I’m involved in moving the ball around. It’s just a great style of play. I really enjoy waking up every day, going to my Seattle practice and knowing I’m working on becoming a better player.

PINOE

One of the other great benefits of playing for the Reign is that I get to play with Megan Rapinoe. Megan lives here in Seattle. She had been recovering from injuries over the past couple of months, but she’s playing great now. In our opener Sunday against the Western New York Flash, we won, 5-1. Pinoe finished with a hat trick and an assist.

0416_Pinoe

It’s amazing to think of how far Megan has come from when I met her, back when she was a young kid with long hair. Right off the bat, I remember thinking, “This girl’s got a lot of talent,” but the way she’s kept getting better and better has been awesome to see.

Back in the beginning of her career, Megan didn’t always embrace the defensive part of being a midfielder. She kind of approached it like, “That’s what defenders are for.” It actually became kind of a running joke between Pinoe and everyone else on the team, and we’d all laugh about it together.

Now, she makes an incredible impact on both ends of the field, not just with the U.S. team, but with our Seattle team, too. She’s so mindful of our team’s shape defensively that she’s become one of my favorite defenders on corners in the near post zonal position. I trust that nothing will go through her when she holds that spot for corners.

She’s also become the ultimate teammate, and I can’t say enough about how valuable that is. She treats everyone with respect on and off the field. She loves the game so much that she’ll do whatever it takes for her team to win. She doesn’t care if it’s her that scores, or somebody else. It’s not about her. It’s about us.

A NEW TEAMMATE

One of the most surprising things that’s happened recently is that Abby Wambach became my teammate on the Reign. Last weekend, Sydney Leroux was traded to Western New York for Abby. Syd and I were teammates in Seattle last season, so it was shocking to see that she was leaving.

The funny thing is that I already had been talking to Abby about coming up from Portland, where she lives, to train with us. Back in March, Abby said that she wasn’t planning to play in the NWSL while she got ready for the World Cup. Over the past few weeks, I had been encouraging her to come to Seattle to participate in our practices. “The World Cup is about 60 days away,” I told her. “I just want to make sure that you’re in a good environment training.”

Hope_Abby2

Then the trade happened. So she’s coming! I think it’s going to be great for her, and for us, too.

THE CALL

Last but not least, the final National Team roster for the World Cup was released Tuesday. When Jill called to tell me I had made the team, it made me very emotional. A lot of thoughts went through my head.

Back in February, a little over a week into my time away from the team, Sunil Gulati — president of U.S. Soccer — called me from Australia to see how I was doing. Sunil and Dan Flynn, the CEO of U.S. Soccer, are people I highly respect, and letting them down had been one of the worst things about my suspension.

When Sunil called, I thanked him. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to get healthy mentally and emotionally, something I may not have been able to do otherwise before the World Cup. If anything good came out of my suspension, it was that, and I will always be grateful to Sunil, Dan and U.S. Soccer for it.

Hearing Jill’s voice — hearing that I was getting a chance to go back to the World Cup for a third time — filled me with joy. I’m so proud and happy to be a part of this team, and appreciative of the many people who have helped me get to this point. And I can’t wait for the tournament to start. I say the third time’s a charm!

19 Comments

  1. Savana Smothers April 16, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    I can’t tell you how much it excited me to see this “New Hope” and actually get to know you more personally. Being a fan for so long I’ve always loved watching you on the field and was determined to stick by my hero the last few years. How far you’ve came off the field shows all of us we can have a “new hope” and get through whatever life throws us. Can’t wait to follow yall up to Canada and watch yall kill it. Let’s do this! – PS thanks for letting me finally get my picture with you in STL, it really was a beautiful day. 🙂 – Keep it up woman!

  2. Jewel Ramos April 16, 2015 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    It’s so cool that you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to write and share with us your life. I really appreaciate it. I do hope that you guys win that world cup, I know is not going to be easy but this is such a talented team, each girl brings something different and special in every position on the field.
    Thank you Hope, for being a great role model and athlete, I admire you and I wish you nothing but the best. Love from Honduras.

  3. Laurie April 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Many people hit bumps in the road….what determines your greatness is how you responded to the issues! You have been a great inspiration to my teenage daughter who is also a keeper. She hates to read, and as soon as your book came out that all she would do! Your picture hangs on her wall which encourages her to be the best she can be and never stop reaching for the stars! Keep up the great work! We will be at the stub hub center to watch you defeat Mexico!

  4. Melissa April 16, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t be more excited and proud to have you representing the US in goal this summer. I have my tickets and can’t wait to see you win this thing! Thank you for taking the time to open up and for sharing an inside view with all of us. There will always be people who have negative things to say, but I hope that you realize that there are also a lot of people who have nothing but pure admiration and respect for your tremendous talent and work ethic. Keep these coming!

  5. Annette April 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Hope I absolutely adore you!! I’ve been a fan of yours for many years. I’ve always stuck by you and defended you when someone makes negative comments about something you may have said or done. I will always be in your corner, because you are real. That’s what I love about you. There’s no pretense about you. You are just you!! I made the drive from TN to St. Louis to watch you play and loved every moment!! I’m excited to cheer you and the entire USWNT on during the World Cup. GO GET YOUR CUP!!! P.S. Any chance of those red kits being up for sale before the cup??

  6. I'mani McCants April 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    We love you Hope! Keep up the great work!

  7. Hakeem Mulholland April 16, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    I’m so happy that you have been blessed with so many treasures in your life. You sill the absolute best goalie in the world! 🙂

  8. Lucero April 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    My name is Lucero. I’m proud of you. Thanks for always leave everything on the matches. You’re an amazing goalkeeper. You are truly an inspiration. I wish I could see you play in the World Cup, but I will not be possible. Yet we are supporting and as you say… “The third time’s a charm.” Good Luck! Greetings by Mexican Fan located in Toronto, Canada.

  9. Sam Nelson April 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Really happy you’re doing so well and are excited about the present and the future. Am enjoying your blogs. You’re a pretty good writer to go along with being a pretty good goal keeper! 🙂 Keep up the good work and enjoy every day you have to be healthy and active. It goes by way too fast!

  10. Marisa April 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Hope, just like with your first post, I had tears in my eyes by the end. I love your honesty and willingness to be real! I knew you would make the team, but congrats anyway! There is no one we would rather have in the net for us! I hope training goes great the next few months, as well as your time with the Reign. And, yes, third time is most definitely the charm!

  11. Courtney Thompson April 16, 2015 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I will say it again, I’m so happy for you! We love you as our goalkeeper but being a healthy, joyful human being is far more important to me. We have the days off work and I’m ready to cheer you guys on to a World Cup victory. You will hear us cheer June 16th and then again on July 5th 😉

    USA! USA! USA!

  12. Denae and Joel Bauer April 16, 2015 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    We are super proud of you, Hope! You are beautiful inside and out. We are so excited for you and the WC! Hope you are enjoying being home for a bit! -Joel and Denae

  13. Carl April 16, 2015 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Hope,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your life. I think you are a wonderful person and an amazing athlete. You are someone to be admired and respected. I’m very proud to have you representing the USA this year in the World Cup and glad to have you at goal. I know you and the other ladies will take care of business and make everyone proud.
    Once again thank you.
    Best wishes from Texas.

  14. Brittany April 17, 2015 at 3:13 am - Reply

    Hope,
    I can’t tell even begin to tell you how proud your fans are of you, and all the work you’ve put in, both mentally and physically. For you to open up to the world and all of your fans the way you have with this new blog is incredible. Everyone who knows anything about you knows how you like to keep your personal life/emotions away from the public eye, so this is truly a big step for you. Thank you again for all your hard work on and off the field.
    A forever grateful fan.

  15. Tim April 17, 2015 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Hope, you are great for women’s soccer. There is so much hand wringing about people who are a little controversial at times, so I’m glad to see you haven’t been kept out of the game or the cup. If we didn’t have people who sometimes make bad decisions or get a little crazy, there would be no amazing goal keepers like yourself. Stay strong, be you.

  16. Sammi Lewis April 17, 2015 at 4:57 am - Reply

    Hope, I have been a huge fan of yours since I was 12 and you were in My Heroes section of MySpace back when that was cool. I looked up to you as a goalkeeper myself and have followed and backed you ever since! I am so beyond excited that I will hopefully get to watch you play against Mexico! I will honestly be like a kid in a candy store getting to watch all of you amazing women play! And I just want you to know that I will be cheering you on and look forward to seeing your talent in person! I love you blog also. Thank you! for everything

  17. Brian Black April 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Sounds great. I’m glad everything’s going so well. 🙂
    Seattle’s a pretty cool town too. I was there last summer. Really good Italian at Cafe Bengodi, lavender crepes on Bainbridge, donuts at Mighty-O. Okay, so basically all I remember is food, but still.
    Pinoe Grigio makes me laugh too, she’s a trip. 😀
    Well, Good Luck to you all this summer! I look forward to posting a congrats to Abby and all of you once you’ve had what I’m sure will be an awesome run through the tournament.
    Peace!!!

  18. Julia H April 17, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Hope,
    Its great to see that beautiful smile on your face and see the improvements you have made both on and off the field. I am proud of you and proud to be one of your fans. I love that you’ve opened yourself up and share your lives with us. I am excited to be a part of your world cup journey and will be faithfully cheering your name at the Harrison. NJ send off series game. I’ll have a nice big sign and pray that I get the chance to meet you. It would be an honor. Never stop smiling and being you.

  19. Gabriela bilbao January 24, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Hola Hope, me gustaría poder conocerte, soy de Argentina, me gustaría verte jugar en vivo y conocerte en persona, ojala se cumpla mi deseo, como se cumplieron todos tus deseos, sos la mejor arquera.

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