The World Cup Victory Tour marched on for Hope Solo and the United States Women’s National Team on Sunday with another swift win over Haiti in Birmingham, Alabama.
Hope once again tended goal for the first 45 minutes of action before being replaced by Alyssa Naeher, and neither goalkeeper faced a single shot as the USWNT offense dominated possession with a 39-0 shot advantage in the 8-0 win. The American women put 19 of those 39 shots on goal, forcing Haitian goalkeeper Ednie Limage to make some beautiful saves. Hope watched as her team mounted a 5-0 lead and kept the ball on the Hatian half of the field for 74 percent of the time in the first half, making for a quiet afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham for No. 1.
But that simply allowed Hope to enjoy the atmosphere. The attendance reached 35,735 at Legion Field, the second largest crowd of the Victory Tour thus far. Over four stops, the tour has now drawn 134,836 fans. After Sunday’s game, Hope talked about the tremendous outpouring of support all over the country, including those on hand in Birmingham as the USWNT extended its unbeaten streak on U.S. soil to 100 games.
“The fans have come out. They’re still excited after the victory in the World Cup,” Hope said. “You can see the excitement, you can feel it when you come to the stadium, they’re coming to our hotels. Everybody’s just still beaming with excitement and it hasn’t really died down, which is really cool because it has been a couple months now. We’re hoping to get this throughout the entire Victory Tour. We have four games in December and two in October, so we’ll see if we can ride the wave that long.”
The No. 1 ranked USWNT was set to host No. 9 Australia in Birmingham, and Detroit earlier in the week as well. But a labor dispute in the Aussie organization forced the Americans to find a replacement. Haiti stepped in on incredibly short notice, and Hope and Co. were very appreciative to their opponent.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get to play against Australia. I was excited for an intense, competitive, tough match, but I’m grateful that Haiti came all this way with very short notice,” Hope said. “I think they only had five days’ notice so we’re very grateful.”
The largest standalone crowd ever for a USWNT game in the southeast U.S. greeted the Hatians in Birmingham, and the World Cup champions put on a spectacular offensive exhibition in Sunday’s game.
Less than a minute into the contest the Americans were already on the board.
Midfielder Kelley O’Hara took a short corner and sent it in to defender Julie Johnston, who found the back of the net to make it 1-0. In the 16th minute, forward Alex Morgan cut to her left while inside the Haitian box and was taken down for a penalty kick. Carli Lloyd took the penalty shot and placed her strike in the left corner of the net, making it two-nil. One minute later, it was young star midfielder Crystal Dunn scoring her second goal in as many games when midfielder Megan Rapinoe played a through ball to Dunn, who struck it to the bottom left corner of the net for a three-goal advantage.
Shortly thereafter, Lloyd played the role of second runner when Morgan crossed a ball to Dunn in the 22nd minute. The pass was out of Dunn’s reach, but Lloyd buried the ball in the back of the net to make it 4-0. Lloyd was able to cap her fifth hat trick in international play in the 39th minute when Rapinoe took a free kick from 35 yards out and Lloyd headed it in. The trio of goals scored before the half marked Lloyd’s second hat trick in as many games.
Hope, Lloyd and several other starters checked out at halftime, and forward Amy Rodriguez was one of the numerous subs to check in. She added the sixth goal of the match just six minutes into the half, when she scored from 20 yards out off a feed from O’Hara. Morgan and Heather O’Reilly added a couple parting gifts for the crowd in the 85th and 88th minute respectively, as the USWNT cruised to their fourth win and third shutout of the Victory Tour so far.
The Victory Tour resumes in a month, when the Brazilian National Team comes to the States for a pair of matchups in Seattle and Orlando.
Hope’s Seattle homecoming match is set for a 7 p.m. PT kickoff from CenturyLink Field on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Brazil and the U.S. are also set for a 2:30 p.m. ET kickoff later that week from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Oct. 25. The Seattle match will be broadcast on ESPN 2, while FOX Sports 1 will air the match in Orlando.
Before then, Hope will go back into National Women’s Soccer League mode, as her Seattle Reign FC will battle for the NWSL championship against FC Kansas City on Thursday, Oct. 1. USWNT stars Amy Rodriguez, Heather O’Reilly and Lauren Holiday highlight a tough FCKC team, which topped the Reign in last year’s title match.
The NWSL championship will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. PT from Providence Park in Portland and will air on FOX Sports 1.