Hope Solo Helps U.S. Soccer Preserve Slim Win Over France
*** Information provided by the Associated Press
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Hope Solo was unaffected by the Brazilian boos as she came up big in her 200th international appearance to help the United States women's soccer team fight off France 1-0 in a Group G match at the Olympics on Saturday.
Carli Lloyd scored the only goal for the Americans, tapping the ball in from 4 yards out in the 63rd minute, and the U.S. assured its spot in the knockout stage after a second-straight win.
Solo became the first goalkeeper, male or female, to reach the 200-cap mark in international play. She also became just the 11th U.S. player to reach that number of appearances.
Despite the milestone, Solo was still peppered with jeers from spectators, who were riled up about social media posts she made about the threat of the Zika virus. The boos first started during the team's 2-0 tournament-opening win against New Zealand on Wednesday.
"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. "If [the fans] are having fun, great. I like a loud stadium. But it really doesn't mean anything to me.''
The U.S. women, winners of last year's World Cup and ranked No. 1 in the world, are vying for their fourth straight gold medal. France, ranked No. 3, was considered the Americans' biggest rival in the group.
Lloyd broke after an hour against France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Tobin Heath's shot caromed off the post, and while Bouhaddi struggled to recover, Lloyd tapped in the rebound for her eighth Olympic goal. It was her 11th goal of the year overall and 90th of her career after she also scored in the opener against New Zealand.
But for the first half, it was all Solo. She tipped Wendie Renard's header from a free kick off the crossbar in the 16th minute. Her most dramatic stop came in the 41st when Marie-Laure Delie charged in alone and Solo collapsed to her knees to smother the shot.
"She was getting free and I knew she was going to crack a shot as soon as she saw the goal, so I just tried to close her as quickly as I could. And I as I closed her -- some people think she went through my legs on purpose because it was the only part that was open because I had her closed down -- I don't really think so, I think she just tried to crack a shot,'' Solo said.
The 200th cap was Solo's latest accomplishment in a 16-year international career. Last month, she became the first goalkeeper with 100 international shutouts when the U.S. defeated South Africa 1-0 at Soldier Field in Chicago. It was also her 150th career win.
Solo won her second straight Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper at the Women's World Cup a year ago. Over the course of the tournament in Canada, she had five clean sheets and allowed only three goals in seven games.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis made a couple of changes in her lineup for the match. Whitney Engen came in for defender Julie Johnston, who is out with groin soreness, and Crystal Dunn came in for Mallory Pugh, who hurt an ankle in the opener.
But the most stunning lineup change was made by France, which did not start star Eugenie Le Sommer, who scored in France's 4-0 victory over Colombia. It was not clear whether Le Sommer was injured.
The U.S. plays Colombia in its final group match on Tuesday in Manaus. France will play New Zealand.