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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

June 17, 2013
THERE'S ALWAYS HOPE
Playing for the 1st time since February, Solo says there's plenty of room for improvement


Hope Solo made her return to the U.S. Women's National Team on Saturday,
Hope Solo made her return to the U.S. Women's National Team on Saturday,
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- She is considered the best goalkeeper in the world.

So, even after making some key saves and shutting out the Korea Republic during her 45-minute stint, Hope Solo did not walk away too impressed with herself after the United States' 4-1 win on Saturday.

Solo was playing her first international match since February as she was sidelined by shoulder surgery.

I have a long way to go," Solo said afterwards. "I havent played for five months, so it was my first 45 minutes in five months. Ive still got some work to do, especially playing on turf, I better learn how to play quickly on turf since the 2015 World Cup will be on it."

"My kicking was a little off and distribution and things like that, but it felt good to be back here and back behind the back line," she said. "It was also great to see players like [Kristie] Mewis jump into the defense and just play like a star. I was proud of that.

Not only did Mewis play well on the backline, she also tallied her first international goal to give the U.S. an early 1-0 lead.

Solo, who turns 32 on July 30, admitted she needed the break to recharge her batteries.

Im not going to lie. I had a nice break," she said. "I stepped away from the game and I think everybody needs a break from time to time. It made me come back with a lot more grit. When youre doing it day in and day out, you can kind of lose your rhythm a little bit. But I took five months off, I came back and Im ready to start building for the World Cup and for qualifying next year.

The next FIFA Women's World Cup will be hosted by Canada in 2015.

Solo, who has 136 caps, and teammate Abby Wambach, who scored the final goal off a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time, did not start. They both came on at halftime. Solo replaced Nicole Barnhart in goal.

Well, were looking at this as a two-game series and were looking at game time for different people, so we kind of worked that out before the match," U.S. coach Tom Sermanni said. "For some players we worked out the specific times that they were going to be on and Abby and Hope were two of those players. So there was nothing secretive behind that.

During Solo's time off, several players with less international experience had an opportunity to show Sermanni their wares.

I thrive off competition," Solo said. "We have some of the best goalkeepers in the world and course competition helps you stay at your best.
   
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