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U.S. women, Solo blank French in Tampa


Published:   |   Updated: June 14, 2014 at 11:26 PM

— United States Women’s National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo was challenged with just two shots on goal in Saturday’s match against France at Raymond James Stadium. None of the attempts saw the longtime national team keeper ranging too far, and even with a slight bobble on one attempt, Solo wasn’t forced to play her toughest match.

Thanks to a Sydney Leroux goal in the first half and those two saves, Solo reached a milestone with her 71st shutout to tie Briana Scurry for the most all-time for a United States goalie as the team won 1-0.

In the weeks leading up to the match, Solo had shied away from commenting on the record.

“I kind of have this superstition, when I think about the record before the game, I tend to get scored on,” Solo said. “It was all about team defensive shape, and we did that.”

“I’m sure I’m going to hit a wall when I take a shower and get back to the hotel. ... It is an amazing moment, it goes down in history, and I’m happy it happened here in Tampa.”

France’s speed was on display early. In the first six minutes, defender Laure Boulleau turned away a chance from American Carli Lloyd and another from Christen Press. On the other end, midfielder Elodie Thomis showed an extra gear with the ball on the far side, but the three times she had chances in the U.S. end, Thomis found herself alone as her teammates failed to keep up.

In the eighth minute, France had its best chance at a goal in the first half when Thomis found herself one-on-one with Solo, but the U.S. keeper made the save.

Leroux broke the stalemate in the 21st minute, taking a lob from Christen Press, dribbling around the defender and charging into the 6-yard box and sending a left-footed shot to the far post. It was the forward’s seventh goal in international play this year.

“It was a ball over the top, and it bounced into the box,” Leroux said. “I kind of put my body on it and got it to my left foot and slotted it.”

France forward Eugenie Le Sommer had a pair of shots after the United States goal, taking possession in the middle of the box and firing a ball off the post from 8 yards out in the 31st minute. Solo turned away another chance by Le Sommer 12 minutes later, bobbling it slightly before bringing the ball in.

The second half lacked any significant chances from either team and the loudest cheer from the 9,799 fans was in the 49th minute, when U.S. forward Alex Morgan entered the match.

Morgan, 24, last played for the national team in November 2013 and has been sidelined with a stress reaction in her left ankle.

The nearly 10,000 fans set a Tampa record for the women’s national team match.

The team last played at RJS in 2008, topping the Korean Republic 1-0.

The win marked the first win for new head coach Jill Ellis, a longtime assistant and interim coach.

“It feels great because we just played a tremendous opponent,” Ellis said. “I thought we did some really great things tonight.”

The win against France continued the team’s success, as the United States (ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA) improved to 14-0-1 all-time against the No. 4-ranked team.

The teams will meet again in Connecticut on Thursday as the Americans prepare for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) tournament in October to decide the qualifiers for next year’s World Cup in Canada.

U.S. forward Abby Wambach, who has 167 career goals, was not in the lineup. Wambach hurt her left knee during a NWSL game this month.

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