Hope Solo gets her 200th cap as USA beat France
Goalkeeper Hope Solo made history at Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Saturday with her 200th USA appearance, cementing her place in history as one of the greats of women’s football.
200 international appearances is a record which no other goalkeeper, male or female, can claim. Solo also has a record 102 clean sheets to her name after victory against France. Winning her landmark cap in Belo Horizonte, the goalkeeper with the golden gloves put on a flawless display, saving well from Marie Laure Delie in the first half. She thwarted the same player with 15 minutes remaining to preserve the clean sheet.
"What's important to me is that I played the best quality of football that I can play, and that hopefully our team makes it to the final," Solo said after her superlative performance.
“Hope is ice, nothing can rattle her,” an appreciative Carli Lloyd said later. “She had a fantastic game tonight, huge saves and came up really big.”
It was Captain Lloyd who gave the USA victory with the game’s only goal on 63 minutes, popping up in the right place at the right time to knock the ball into an empty net in after Tobin Heath's shot had come back off the post to leave French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi stranded.
Having broken the appearances record, Hope Solo has her sights set on a third Olympic gold in Rio. Solo and her USA team-mates collect titles, medals and individual awards with such regularity, it is difficult to look beyond USA when it comes to contenders for the gold medal. In what could be the most open women's Olympic Games tournament in years, USA are still odds-on favourites to win their fifth gold medal in six Games when the final is held at the iconic Maracanã Stadium on 19 August.
"Never forget that USA are the world champions and the current Olympic champions. Of course we are disappointed by the result, but we are determined to keep on. During the first 20 minutes of the second half, the US put a lot of pressure on us. Unfortunately, we had many chances but didn’t score, though our tactics were good,” said France coach Philippe Bergeroo after the game.
If the USA succeed, they become the first team of either gender to add an Olympic Games gold medal to a World Cup title back-to-back. Considering they have lost just once in their last 43 games, it would take a brave person to bet against them.