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Balancing Winning, Entertaining And Hope For Women's Soccer

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Hope Solo First Media Session (Photo Courtesy <a href="http://www.facebook.com/janegphotography" target="new">JaneG</a> / <a href="http://www.sounderswomen.com" target="new">Sounders Women</a>)
Hope Solo First Media Session (Photo Courtesy JaneG / Sounders Women)

Under the lights of Starfire Stadium US Women's National Team Players Hope Solo and Stephanie Cox met the media for their first time as Sounders Women. After their long flights across the Pacific and in the chill of an early April evening they also watched their less famous teammates work out under coach Michelle French. The goals of Sounders Women are large, but this endeavour isn't just about getting some Cascadia natives playing at home or the future of women's soccer, it's also about winning games.

General Manager Amy Carnell knows how difficult that will be with a team featuring five players in the national team pool, but she's confident in French's ability to team and balance the roster.

I know Frenchie feels real good about the core of the team even outside of the national team players. I think we're trying to balance that because we know that a majority of the home games will have the national team players, but when we go on the road we better be prepared for the adjustment in team chemistry that we're going to see, and the obvious one is not having those players. It will be a good challenge for the girls.

Confidence in French extends to Cox and Solo as well. For Hope Solo she sees French's experiences as a national team player balancing duties for the national team and club commitments will help the Sounders Women succeed.

It's always an interesting dynamic. You have people coming and going. I have all the faith in the world in the coaching staff, especially with someone like Michelle French. She's been there, done that. She knows how to get the team together and embrace the opportunity. It can make a team, it can break a team. I do believe that the environment that she is providing will make it.

Cox thinks that the number of players who have had those differing commitments will help the team as well. Between senior national team players, youth national team players and even a Mexican national team player there's experience dealing with this. That history will help.

Last year we were bouncing in and out of WPS and the National team. That was challenging to balance the different roles, but I'm excited that there's a number of us from the National team so we'll all kind of have the same experience and I'm sure the girls here will be welcoming and inviting. I'm excited to share my experience with them.

Those abilities of the famous players to share with the younger ones can go a long way to improving play all around, raising expectations and bringing a professional attitude even if they don't have professional pay. GM Carnell notes the difference between this year and last.

The general feeling amongst the team is that there is high energy level. They're all feeling privileged to be part of this special year. A lot of them have been part of this team in the past and it's been run a lot differently. It was run as an amateur team. When I came on board and Frenchie came on board the whole idea was to adjust the mentality. Everything from training to wearing the rave green kit, it's a completely different team.

Those kits will be available for purchase late in the preseason even. These are exciting times for the women's game in the Puget Sound. Both Cox and Solo mentioned numerous about how happy they are to be playing in a place they call home.

There were times that Hope Solo thought she wouldn't move back to Seattle until she retired. For one year, and maybe more, that isn't a concern. She's giving back to Seattle now.

I always knew that at the end of the day I'd be back here, whether it was when I retired or before that. The angle is to help build the game here in a city that I love.

If there's one thing that's clear, it's that this city loves soccer, national team goalkeepers and winning teams called Sounders. The lingering question though, is will one great experience in Seattle be enough to rescue women's soccer nationally. That's a question that will take a lot more words to answer.