She even spread his ashes in the goal before each game. And then, without an explanation and after three years as the U.S. team's starting goalie, U.S. head coach Greg Ryan pulled her from the starting line up for the quarterfinal match against Brazil.
Angry, confused and disappointed, she watched as her team lost a game, 4-0, she'd dedicated to her father.
Afterward, she criticized her coach's decision.
"It was the wrong decision," she said in 2007. "There is no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves."
She said her words were meant for one person — Ryan. But others interpreted it as boastful, arrogant and critical of an American soccer hero, Briana Scurry, who replaced her in the goal against Brazil. It was Scurry, after all, who made that game-winning save against China in 1999.
Solo was kicked off the team by Ryan and shunned by her teammates. She said in that interview with ESPN that it would have been easy to walk away from the game, away from the pain.
Instead, she did what great athletes do — she showed up and worked hard. She mended fences with teammates, and when Ryan was replaced with Pia Sundhage a few months later, she earned back her position.
In 2008, she helped the U.S. to an Olympic gold medal in soccer. And then, on Sunday, against the very team that eliminated the U.S. in the season she'd dedicated to her father, Solo found redemption again.
After playing a fantastic game, she was the picture of calm as she and her teammates won the game-deciding shootout. Her teammates had to make every goal, and she had to earn a save.
She did just that against Daiane, the third Brazilian to shoot. (Incidentally, it was the third shot that Scurry saved in 1999.)
What the U.S. women showed wasn't just great athleticism or superior strategy. They offered another example of why in sports, and more importantly in life, one should never give up. You never know when a miracle will result from that perseverance.
"I have no words," said Sundhage moments after the win. "The goal… Somebody's writing this book, and it's about the American attitude and finding a way to win."
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