Tom Sermanni released his roster for the upcoming Algarve Cup in Portugal, and Hope Solo will miss the tournament with a wrist injury that may require surgery.
The good news: This isn’t a new thing and it’s not hugely serious. The American No. 1 damaged ligaments in her left wrist some time ago but it makes sense to get her situation sorted out now. According to a release from U.S. Soccer, “with Women’s World Cup qualifying not until the end of 2014, the team medical staff advised that now would be the time to address the situation.” Goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart, Jill Loyden, and Ashlyn Harris will battle for the starting job next month in Portugal.
So, it’s not the worst thing in the world. But it does make you reflect on the U.S. sans Solo. She is the single most important player on the roster, and the one whose absence creates the biggest drop in talent. It’s both a matter of skill and experience. Consider this: In 2012, Solo started 31 of 32 games. Barnhart was between the pipes during a 4-0 victory over Sweden in the third-place match of the Algarve Cup.
The American women are deep enough that they don’t drop-off significantly skillwise if you replace one of the 10 field players with a second-stringer. They might have to play differently if, say, Abby Wambach wasn’t on the field, but they would be okay. You might be able to make a case that the center backs are thin, but I don’t think it’s as big as the drop from Solo to the No. 2 goalie.
So here’s hoping Solo returns successfully if and when she needs surgery. And let’s pray she doesn’t go down with something more serious. There isn’t much help coming on the horizon.