U.S. Soccer honors Hope Solo with pregame ceremony
SAN DIEGO -- In the midst of a campaign about the future of the United States Soccer Federation and its presidency, Hope Solo was honored Sunday for her time on the field.
An on-field ceremony by U.S. Soccer prior to Sunday's game between the United States and Denmark recognized Solo reaching 200 career appearances for the national team.
U.S. Soccer vice president Carlos Cordeiro, one of the candidates she is running against for president, presented Solo with a jersey.
Her 202 total appearances rank 10th in team history and are the most by a goalkeeper.
It is standard practice for the national team to recognize players for such milestones -- Alex Morgan received a similar ceremony for her 100th cap when the U.S. opened its 2016 schedule in the same stadium in San Diego -- but the timing was unusual for Solo. She played her 200th game for the U.S. during the 2016 Olympics. She made two more appearances for the team in that tournament but was subsequently suspended for six months as a result of derogatory comments about the opponent after the U.S. was eliminated by Sweden in a penalty shootout.
She has not played since the Olympics and announced this past December that she would seek the U.S. Soccer Federation presidency vacated by Sunil Gulati. One of eight candidates to qualify for the final ballot, Solo, 36, spoke Saturday at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia before traveling to the game in California.
U.S. Soccer did not make Solo available for interviews before or after the ceremony, and she declined through a publicist to speak to the media. It isn't clear if the presidential run marks the definitive end her playing career. United States coach Jill Ellis said this week that she has not spoken to Solo or had conversations about her returning.
"Coming out of 2016, I think I had already been planning -- and you're looking at depth -- and decided to invest in other goalkeepers," Ellis said. "And at this point, it's feeling comfortable and confident in what we have and building on that."
Controversy is inseparable from Solo's legacy. Among incidents that placed her in the spotlight, she was sent home before the final game in the 2007 World Cup after criticizing coach Greg Ryan for replacing her with Briana Scurry prior to a semifinal loss against Brazil. She faced domestic violence charges involving a 2014 altercation in her home state of Washington.
She was a vocal critic of U.S. Soccer on the issue of wage disparity and was one of five national team players to file a 2016 complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On the field, Solo was also widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the history of women's soccer. In addition to winning two Olympic gold medals and one World Cup as a starter, she holds national team career records for shutouts (102), wins (154) and consecutive games without defeat (55). More than half of her career appearances were shutouts.
"Hands down, Hope is and will be the best goalkeeper to have played for U.S. Soccer," U.S. co-captain Carli Lloyd said. "What she's done has been absolutely tremendous. It's been a pleasure to play with her, it's been a pleasure to call her a teammate and friend. She's obviously moving on to different avenues in her life, and I think celebrating her 200th cap as a player is definitely deserving. I'm happy that she is kind of getting that last little bit of celebration for her career. She can bring her friends and family here and enjoy that moment."