TUKWILA -- Not even an exhausting 10-hour flight from Japan could keep the smile off Hope Solo's face.
The Sounders Women's goalkeeper, and U.S. women's national team star, arrived in Seattle on Wednesday.
And amid a frenzy of signing autographs, posing for pictures and conducting interviews, she met her new club team for the first time since signing in February.
For Solo, a Richland product, it was a welcomed return home.
"I'm so excited to be here," said the former collegiate standout at Washington. "I always knew at the end of the day I'd end up back here, whether it was when I retire or even before that. The end goal is to really help build the game here in a city that I love. That's my ultimate goal, and hopefully win some games, as well -- maybe a championship."
Solo, who just participated in an international tournament in Japan, is one of five members on the U.S. women's national team to join the local USL W-League team the past two months: Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Stephanie Cox and Sydney Leroux.
All but Rapinoe are expected to be available for the 7:30 p.m. exhibition game Monday against Seattle Pacific at Starfire Stadium. Tickets remain through www.sounderswomen.com.
The availability of such high-profile stars is primarily due to Women's Professional Soccer suspending its 2012 season because of a legal matter with a former owner.
"I think it's our obligation as female athletes to really grow the game," said Solo.
Her celebrity on and off the field will help.
Solo is second in U.S. team history in appearances (114) and shutouts (62), and has lost just four games over the past nine years. Beyond celebrity in soccer, she's also known for her participation in television's Dancing with the Stars, posing for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue and she has almost 400,000 followers on Twitter.
"It's fantastic for the Seattle community to have a number of national team players playing here on the club side," said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid. "I know they're going to miss some games because of national-team responsibilities and duties, but hopefully they'll be here enough times for the fans to establish to a good relationship with them. ... We've got to cheer them on and I know they're cheering us on as well."
* Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayersseattletimes.com. On Twitter joshuamayers.