After crashing out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals, USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo had some strong words for Sweden. She didn’t like their style of play, and she let it be known.
“I think we played a bunch of cowards,” Solo said following defeat to Sweden on penalties after a 1-1 draw. “The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that.”
Solo, never one to disguise how she feels, was asked to clarify her comments. She continued, “Sweden dropped off. They didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their gameplan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn’t try and press. They didn’t want to open the game, and they tried to counter with longballs…I think it was very cowardly.”
A “better” team losing to a less talented side that bunkers in and frustrates the favorites is an age-old tale, and this sentiment is nothing new following this kind of result. We saw it during Euro 2016 when Portugal squeaked by Iceland, Cristiano Ronaldo criticized the Icelandic squad for playing “small” after playing to a 1-1 draw.
However, it’s impossible to deny that Sweden simply did what they had to do to advance past a powerful opponent. The Americans knew exactly what they would face, and they failed to execute an effective strategy to break down the defensive-minded Swedes. It’s not as if they were surprised by this style of play. Solo said it herself they were aware of the game plan. So her explosive comments are more likely out of frustration than anything else – exactly what the Swedes were looking for.
Former U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage threw at the Stars and Stripes exactly what everyone expected, and the U.S. still came up empty-handed. Solo finished her comments with “I don’t think they’ll make it far in the tournament” which is funny considering Sweden’s win over the USWNT moves them into the semifinals – two wins away from a gold medal.
Sundhage followed up Solo’s comments by responding, “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, she’s going home.”
Solo later tweeted, “Losing sucks. I’m really bad at it.” She did not apologize to Sweden for her comments.