United States national team goalkeeper Hope Solo once doubted that she would get a chance to play professional soccer in her adopted hometown of Seattle.
Now she’s about to begin her second season in Seattle, and playing for her second club.
After spending last season with the Sounders Women of the United Soccer Leagues’ W-League, Solo was assigned by U.S. Soccer to play this season with Seattle Reign FC of the new National Women’s Soccer League.
“We’re all in it together to build the game here in the city,” Solo said in a press conference Thursday, hours after Reign season tickets went on sale. “So there shouldn’t be effects. You’re going to get maybe your right-out-of-college players playing for the Sounders – maybe trying to get more experience at a higher level before they maybe filter over to the Reign. So it could be looked at as a really good thing. We had a great season, getting 5,000 people to the games for the women Sounders. But, unfortunately, I think many of those fans were there to see many of the high-caliber players that were in town: the Megan Rapinoes, the Alex Morgans.”
This season, those national team members are in the NWSL. Rapinoe is Solo’s teammate with the Reign, and Morgan plays for the rival Portland Thorns.
Association with the United States Soccer Federation gives Solo hope that the NWSL may succeed where previous efforts to establish a top-tier women’s pro league in this country have failed.
“This one’s different,” she said. “There’s a different business plan, there’s a different business model, and it has the backing of U.S. Soccer. U.S. Soccer is paying my salary. They’re paying the salaries for the best players, for the national team players. So that takes a lot of weight off the shoulders of the owners, and it should create longevity for the league to survive.”
Solo was born in Richland and starred at the University of Washington. She has won Olympic gold twice with the national team, but she still hopes to pick up her first World Cup title.
Off the pitch, she has become known for issues such as her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars,” public criticism of USA teammate Brianna Scurry and broadcaster Brandi Chastain, and her recent marriage to former Huskies and Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens – who has had his own set of off-field problems, including a 2010 drug arrest in Florida that ended his NFL career.
Now back in Seattle and about to begin play with her new team, she said she is pleased with her life and unconcerned with what others think.
“It’s been a crazy year, as always: the story of my life,” she said. “But it’s been a great year. Obviously, with the Olympics – after losing the World Cup – coming back and winning gold against Japan was incredible. I’m still waiting for that World Cup trophy, so I’m going to go after it, go hard for another three or four years. But personally, that’s part of life. There’s a lot of ups and downs. Right now I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my personal life. I’m happily married. Yeah, there’s lots of ups and downs, but that’s what makes us strong is getting through them all.”
Seattle Sounders FC supplemental draft picks Kevin Olali and Jennings Rex joined preseason training Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. Lebogang Moloto is expected to arrive this weekend. The top two supplemental picks have been delayed: Will Bates has knee problems and Kevin Durr has obligations at the Air Force Academy. The club shifts to the Seahawks training facility in Renton today for fitness testing. No. 2 goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, 40, said he isn’t going into this season with the assumption it will be his last. Major League Soccer’s affiliation agreement with the third-division USL PRO league is a good thing for the development of young players, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, reserves team coach Ezra Hendrickson, and youth development director Darren Sawatzky all said Thursday. However, the club is still assessing how fully it will take advantage of the agreement in the coming season.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt