Hope Solo seems at ease being a villain of the 2016 Olympics.
Fans targeted Solo for the second consecutive game Saturday, booing her and chanting “Zika” every time she kicked the ball during the United States’ 1-0 win over France in the Olympic women’s soccer tournament in Brazil.
Yet Solo ignored the abuse and delivered one of her finest performances at a major international championship. She made a game-high five saves and denied France a share of the spoils in the second game of the preliminary round.
Solo drew local fans’ ire last month with Zika-related posts she made on social media. Some booed her relentlessly Wednesday in Team USA’s win over New Zealand. Many more joined the action Saturday, turning Estadio Minerao in Belo Horizonte into a cauldron of “Zika” upon her every touch.
The fans’ fury might have overshadowed a milestone night for Solo, who made her 200th career appearance for Team USA — an international record for a goalkeeper. But she stole the show with her play.
Afterward, she addressed the fans’ new tradition diplomatically.
A HUGE night for Hope Solo on goal. 102nd shutout in her 200th cap!
Posted by U.S. Soccer on Saturday, August 6, 2016
Solo isn’t in Brazil to win popularity contests. Medals are more important to her than adulation.
And the U.S. women’s soccer team is better off because of it.
Thumbnail photo via John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports Images