Hope Solo

USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)
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USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)

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Back-to-back World Cup winners don’t grow on trees, but how many of the 2015 and 2019 champs should comprise the USWNT’s Best XI of the 2010s?

Choosing a men’s Best XI was difficult enough. Claiming the women’s top team is darn near impossible.

That won’t stop us from trying, especially given there are more hours in the year than there are posts to write in earnest.

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The challenge in putting together an XI given this decade’s accolades is how many shiny attacking toys produced by this fine country.

Start rattling off the big names and you’ll see the struggle: Wambach, Morgan, Lloyd, Heath, Rapinoe, O’Reilly.

Shoot: Amy Rodriguez and Christen Press would be the best attackers of the decade if their nationality was any of about 125 other options (FIFA only ranks 141 women’s teams).

So we are going to cheat a little bit.

Our Best XI will play three at the back despite the fact that the Yanks rarely if ever operated that way. The reason is the Yanks have one no-doubter fullback who played left back in one World Cup win and right back in another.

[ MORE: Best USMNT, USWNT moments of the 2010s ]

Ali Krieger is a fit enough choice for right back, but can the newlywed star justify her place over one of the attacking heroes we’d like to swing into the fold? Meh.

Plus Julie Ertz at center mid gives us a bonus center back, and we’re willing to bet that either Becky Sauerbrunn or she would make for one heck of a full back in a pinch.

Lauren Holiday slides into the midfield alongside Ertz. The superstar retired near the peak of her powers to start a family with NBA husband Jrue Holiday, and we can hope that she wins the soccer or hoop debate if her children are sport-inclined.

That all brings us to the attackers.

Tobin Heath may be the flashiest and most fun attackers in the world, but she’s just missing out. It was either her or Abby Wambach, and the latter is the current (though not for long) leading scorer in the history of the game.

Solo

O’Hara — Rampone — Sauerbrunn

Ertz — Holiday

 Rapinoe — Lloyd — O’Reilly

Wambach — Morgan

Hope Solo fears for USWNT in semifinal v. England

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Hope Solo isn’t shy in sharing what’s on her mind, and ahead of the USWNT facing England in the World Cup semifinal on Tuesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Telemundo Deportes) in Lyon, the former U.S. goalkeeper has admitted fear will be in the air for the Americans.

Solo, 37, is working as an analyst for the BBC in the UK during the Women’s World Cup and in her latest column she revealed there has always been respect for England from the USWNT, but that may have turned to fear.

“This summer, after victories over Scotland, Argentina, Japan, Cameroon and Norway to reach the last four, there might be a small sense of fear from the United States for this England team. And that’s not how the US have ever operated previously – we simply do not fear teams,” Solo said. “There’s a sense of arrogance in the fact that we like to instil fear in others, and we don’t operate with fear ourselves. This American team won’t admit it, but the Lionesses can instil a tiny bit of fear in Jill Ellis’ defending champions.”

Solo revealed that this is England’s ‘best chance to beat the USA’ and believes that the two teams are set for an epic semifinal battle in Lyon in front of a sell-out crowd.

She also used her column to have another dig at USWNT head coach Jill Ellis, as she claimed that Phil Neville, in his first-ever tournament as a manager, is a much better tactician.

Given the fact Ellis was the head coach when Solo had her contract terminated by U.S. Soccer in 2016 after several disciplinary issues, it’s safe to say she has an axe to grind with the current USWNT setup…

“Player for player, the American team is the stronger side and you have to think they will get through – but England have the better manager, tactically,” Solo added. “We’re going to see tactics come into play in this game more than in any other match in this tournament so far, which is why I’m excited to see what Phil Neville has in store.”

Does Solo have a point? On the last point, praising Neville and saying she would have loved to have played for him, she could be right.

Neville has got some big decisions correct for the Lionesses to guide them to last four of this tournament, plus he led England to victory on U.S. soil earlier this year in the SheBelievesCup.

On the other hand Ellis’ tactics have been questioned by many surrounding the USWNT, and decisions like leaving out Lindsay Horan and keeping star names Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan in the team despite shaky displays has raised eyebrows.

The USWNT have hardly been scintillating in this World Cup, but they are through to the semifinal stage and they know if they beat England they will be heavy favorites to get past either the Netherlands or Sweden in the final on Sunday. Equally, England will also be favorites if the No.3 ranked nation manage to get past the top team in the world.

USWNT coach Ellis responds to Solo’s comments

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USWNT head coach Jill Ellis has taken the high road.

Ahead of the U.S. women’s national team kicking off their 2019 World Cup campaign against Thailand in Reims on Tuesday, former USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo has been critical of Ellis.

The legendary goalkeeper, who had her contract cancelled by U.S. Soccer back in 2016 over disciplinary reasons, lashed out at Ellis when talking on the BBC in her role as a pundit for the tournament.

“Jill is not the leader I wish her to be,” Solo said. “She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But often that doesn’t matter because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb. It doesn’t matter who is coaching us because we will find a way to win. The United States knows how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is.”

Tell us how you really feel, Hope…

But Ellis, who led the USWNT to the World Cup title in 2015 with Solo in goal, hasn’t risen to the bait.

Speaking to the media ahead of their tournament opener, Ellis tried to play down the comments and labelled Solo as a ‘pundit’ and nothing else.

“Comments are comments. For me, personally, I feel over the past five years I’ve made a lot of important decisions and I have processes to make those decisions, and I own those processes,” Ellis said. “At this point, everything and every focus is about this group of players that are here and now. Pundits, out there, that’s part of it. And part of the message is always to make sure that the focus is on the internal part of the game. And that’s where we are.”

Ellis won the 2015 World Cup just months after  she was handed a permanent contract after being in interim charge, and since then she’s had plenty of critics as the USWNT were knocked out of the Rio 2016 Olympics by Sweden at the quarterfinal stage. A few U.S. hiccups have occurred while the rest of the women’s soccer world has caught up at the international level with England, the Netherlands and France all pushing on and among the favorites to prevail this summer.

The pressure is on Ellis and the USWNT to defend their crown, and she knows it. Ellis doesn’t need Solo or anybody else to crank up any extra pressure, because everyone expects this USWNT to win the trophy in France. Solo’s differences with this current USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation is clear, but Ellis did well to not respond too strongly and add any further fuel to the fire.

Hope Solo hammers USWNT head coach Ellis

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Former USWNT star goalkeeper Hope Solo tells it like it is.

The 2015 World Cup winner, now 37, had her contract terminated by U.S. Soccer in 2016 and it appears that she isn’t going to lavish praise on head coach Jill Ellis while working as a pundit for the BBC in the UK during the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Not at all.

Speaking on BBC Five Live in the UK, Solo didn’t hold back when asked about the USWNT head coach and how the players feel about her.

“Jill is not the leader I wish her to be” Solo said. “She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But often that doesn’t matter because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb. It doesn’t matter who is coaching us because we will find a way to win. The United States knows how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is.”

Solo did say that she had a really good relationship with the coaching staff towards the end of her time as a national team player, as she could talk with them and get along with them better than the young players on the team.

But with Ellis and the USWNT terminating Solo’s contract due to her comments about Sweden after elimination at the 2016 Olympics, there are clearly issues behind-the-scenes.

Following on from Solo’s previous disciplinary problems while a member of the USWNT, plus the ongoing lawsuit between several U.S. stars and the federation in their fight for equal pay, there is clearly friction here.

If the U.S. doesn’t play well in their opening games at the World Cup this summer, Solo will not sugarcoat her thoughts on the USWNT or Ellis.

Solo: 2026 World Cup shouldn’t go to U.S.

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If you thought the U.S. Soccer presidential election was the last time you’d hear Hope Solo rail against the national federation, you’d be mistaken.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Solo said that she was not supporting the United 2026 bid to host the 2026 World Cup in Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I can’t say it should be awarded to Morocco,” Solo said. “But I don’t think it should go to the United States, and that’s hard to say.”

In the past, Solo has spoken out against U.S. Soccer’s tight relationship with the MLS marketing arm Soccer United Marketing (SUM), which presents a number of conflicts of interest when considering the growth of the game across the U.S., and not just in MLS. Solo particularly identified SUM and Don Garber as having a role in her decision not to support the United Bid.

Solo is so far the only notable former or current American soccer player to come out against the U.S. World Cup bid. FIFA member nations will vote on the 2026 World Cup on June 13 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow, Russia.

David Beckham, co-owner of MLS’ new Miami franchise, came out in favor of the bid on Thursday.