Column: I’m gonna let you finish Wambach, but U.S. rides Solo

By Matt Watts

Independent Florida Alligator, U. Florida via UWIRE

If you weren’t in front of the television watching the United States play Brazil on Saturday, I feel sorry for you. The women wearing the red, white and blue showed incredible resolve in one of the most epic comebacks the sport has ever seen.

But while all the attention is on Megan Rapinoe’s majestic cross and former Florida Gator Abby Wambach’s timely finish, the U.S. really owes it all to someone who was cast aside, benched and dismissed just four years ago.

Hope Solo, the USA goalkeeper, kept it real in 2007 when she was unjustifiably benched before the semifinal against Brazil. After the creators of the beautiful game dropped a four-spot on Briana Scurry, Solo spoke out.

She criticized then-coach Greg Ryan for his decision and said she would have, undoubtedly, made the saves that Scurry missed. Ryan kicked her off the team. She wasn’t allowed to attend or participate in the third-place game or the subsequent awards ceremony. She even had to book her own flight back from China.

But all of her actions are now vindicated. Solo has shown she is the best keeper in the world, and it was her save during penalty kicks — not Wambach’s header in the 122nd minute — that ultimately clinched the game.

Two more wins and this team will enter into the history books alongside the heralded ’99 squad — thanks to Solo.

Quick hits from the world of sports: My heart goes out to Texas Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton. The man already had plenty of demons from his past and now must deal with feeling culpable for the horrible accident that took firefighter Shannon Stone’s life. But the blame is certainly not on Hamilton. It’s on the Rangers organization for allowing such a death trap to exist, especially after a similar incident occurred in the upper deck just over a year ago. … Roger Clemens’ trial on charges of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs is getting underway this week. He faces six felony counts and could potentially face more jail time than Casey Anthony. Way to go, America. … Tiger Woods made an announcement Sunday night that he would make an announcement on Monday. Rumors swirled, speculation ensued, but all the hoopla was about an agency switch. That’s it. Go ahead and call it, golf is dead. … An Ohio State recruit, Kyle Kalis, who decommitted late last month after the much-publicized scandal, has committed to Michigan. Guess the news that Mike Vrabel is coming to save the day didn’t mean much to OSU’s only ESPNU 150 2012 commit. … News out of Oregon today is that the Ducks plan to hire a full-time investigator to weed out the negative relationships between athletes and agents that helped lead to the school’s current NCAA investigation. While this seems like a great idea on the surface, it’s just a save-face move from one of the savviest athletic departments in the country. Cheating is as much a part of college football as tackling and touchdowns. … And in the bonehead move of the week, the fan who caught Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit — a home run to left field bleachers — gave the ball back to the Yankee shortstop free of charge. Seriously.

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