Hope Solo walked out of BC Place on Sunday night with two pieces of coveted hardware and — for the time being — more focus on her skill as a goalkeeper and less on her off-field travails.
"We did it. Awesome," Solo said as she quickly zoomed through the mixed zone after the United States beat Japan 5-2 to win the Women's World Cup title.
That was nearly the extent of the words Solo has spoken during the World Cup — one that she entered enveloped in controversy about whether she should have a place on the American squad — and ended with Solo winning the Golden Gloves award as the top goalkeeper of the tournament. It was the second straight World Cup where Solo was honored as the top goalkeeper.
Solo was the backboard of a defense that went 540 minutes between goals allowed during the World Cup. The Americans allowed a goal in their opening group-stage match against Australia and then didn't allow another until Japan's Yuki Ogimi scored in the 28th minute Sunday. The defense was largely responsible for the success of the U.S. in the tourney.
The questions about Solo's place on the team were due to her off-field issues. Most recently, she served a one-month suspension from the team following her husband's arrest for DUI while driving a team van in January. Solo, in training camp at the time, was also in the van. There were also new revelations just before the tournament about her arrest following a June 2014 altercation at her half-sister's house, which led to charges that were eventually dismissed earlier this year.
U.S. Soccer put conditions — which were not made public — on her return to the team following her suspension, and Solo met them. She later acknowledged she saw a therapist, taking the time to focus on herself. She even launched a blog to share her thoughts about her journey.
But her skill as arguably the best goalkeeper in the world is without question. In the two most recent major competitions — the Algarve Cup and the Women's World Cup — the U.S. allowed a combined four goals in 13 matches.