Hope Solo etched her name in international soccer history on Saturday afternoon.
The United States Women’s National Team topped South Africa 1-0 at Soldier Field in Chicago, behing another shutout from Hope, which made her the first goalkeeper, man or woman, to notch 100 clean sheets for an international career. Hitting the century mark in shutouts is one of many milestones for the 16-year veteran—and she’s glad to have hit it before the start of the 2016 Olympic Games.
“The monkey is off my back, and it feels good,” Hope said after the pre-Olympic friendly. “Honestly I’m just really proud of it, really happy about it.”
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) July 9, 2016
Hope, who grew up a forward until she was recruited as a keeper by her alma-mater University of Washington, has defined her position at the highest level for the last decade.
“Her legacy is set,” coach Jill Ellis said. “She’s a tremendous, world class goalkeeper. Not just for us, but for the world. She’s a player that goes into those big moments and just gets better. It’s remarkable what’s she’s achieved.”
The two-time Olympic gold medalist is also the all-time leader in caps (197), starts and wins (150).
The milestone win came in the USWNT’s first meeting with South Africa, in front 19,272 spectators at Soldier Field in Chicago. Hope made two saves in the USA victory.
“It was a little bit of a tough game for us,” Hope said. “We had to figure out a way to keep a clean sheet and it wasn’t easy by any means. I had to keep them (defense) organized and I had to stay in the game mentally. I’m very proud we stayed focused and got the job done.”
The U.S. (13-0-1) controlled possession, outshooting South Africa 18-4, but the difference was made in the 35th minute.
A poor pass led to a South Africa turnover in the midfield. Mallory Pugh gained possession, ran down the left side and bent a cross between two defenders to fellow forward Crystal Dunn, who fired from short distance into the top of the net. With that score, Pugh logged a team-leading seventh assist in her first year while Dunn was credited with her ninth goal of the year. Afterward, Dunn had nothing but praise for Hope and was thrilled to put in the game-winner to seal the record-setting win.
“Ever since I’ve joined the team, I feel like there has been someone who has made their mark in history. What I love most, is that she credited everyone and it’s not just about her,” Dunn said of Hope. “It’s been a crazy journey.”
Both sides were held scoreless the rest of the way, and when time expired, Hope received praise from both inside her locker room, and from around the world.
— Nike Soccer (@nikesoccer) July 9, 2016
Much respect 2 @hopesolo on her shutout record. What a milestone. The best GK in the world. Well done my friend. Let's go win Gold now. #100
— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) July 9, 2016
— Becky Sauerbrunn (@beckysauerbrunn) July 9, 2016
Congrats @hopesolo. More shutouts than many players have caps.
— Meg ⭐️⭐️ Klingenberg (@meghankling) July 10, 2016
— Samantha Mewis (@sammymewy) July 9, 2016
Biggest Congrats to @hopesolo for 100 shut outs. What an amazing accomplishment!!
— Allie Long (@ALLIE_LONG) July 9, 2016
— Heather O'Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) July 9, 2016
Hope and the USWNT next face Costa Rica at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. on Friday, July 22 at 8 p.m. CT before heading off to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Summer Olympics.
“We still have one more game,” Ellis said. “We still want to improve and be ready for the first game against New Zealand.”
As they seek their fourth straight gold medal, and a third for Hope, the US women open their Olympic group play slate on August 3 against New Zealand. They are also set to face France on August 6 and Colombia on August 9 to conclude play in Group G.