Hope Solo was nothing short of outstanding in the Olympic gold medal match, rising in the moments that mattered as her U.S. women’s team claimed the Wembley Stadium night against Japan.
So, she’s got the skills and chops at an elite athletic level, clearly. She is good.
But you know what else Solo is good at? Creating drama, courting controversy and attracting extra shares of attention.
Even in the stirring dash for London gold, Solo’s Twitter kerfuffle briefly threatened to become the story.
Now drops the latest Solo drama, this one connecting past and present.
The “past” is a turbulent relationship with former United States coach Greg Ryan. It all blew up in the 2007 Women’s World Cup as Solo spoke out with significant collateral damage. She blasted Ryan’s choice of Briana Scurry in goal for an important match. It was all very public and quite unbecoming for everyone involved.
Five years later in her new book, “Solo: A Memoir of Hope,” the goalkeeper and former Dancing with the Stars contestant alleges that Ryan shoved her in a meeting at the team’s hotel in China.
Ryan, now the women’s coach at Michigan, refuted those allegations Tuesday. He said in a statement:
This allegation is completely false. I did not shove or push Hope as I’ve been accused in her book. I would have been terminated immediately by USA Soccer had this allegation been true. I have openly discussed the contents of the meeting and this is the first time that this accusation has been brought to light.
“Hope was disappointed that I benched her for the semifinals, but it was the right move for the team. It was discussed with team leaders, and they stood by my decision.”
I talked to someone who was close to the team at the time, staying in the team hotel, in fact. This person knew of no such incident.
Does that mean it didn’t happen? No. But in my mind it casts some level of doubt, at least, because this stuff gets around.
I also talked to Jenna Pel, our women’s soccer authority at ProSoccerTalk. Pel says Ryan has a point about immediate dismissal had anyone attached to U.S. Soccer gotten any hint of such a unacceptable thing. She noted a similar situation in WPS, although details remain murky even today.
I get the feeling we haven’t heard the last of this one.