Rio 2016

Getty Images

Hope Solo’s ban from USWNT about much more than “coward” comments

12 Comments

On Wednesday the news broke that U.S. Soccer had banned Hope Solo for six months from the USWNT and had terminated her contract as a member of the national team.

In truth, we all saw this coming.

[ MORE: Boufal to Saints close ]

The official reason given by Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, was that Solo’s comments following the USA’s shock defeat on penalty kicks to Sweden in the quarterfinals at Rio 2016 were “unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players.”

Solo, 35, said that Sweden played like “a bunch of cowards” and argued that “the best team did not win.”

Were the comments out of line? Yes. Were they in the heat of the moment? Yes. Were they worthy of a six-month suspension from the USWNT? No.

Then again, this whole episode is about far more than Solo basically lambasting Sweden for being a long-ball team. This storm has been brewing for some time with multiple incidents of indiscretion leading to this inevitable outcome.

Gulati said as much.

“Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action,” Gulati added in the statement.

Solo is currently locked in a legal battle with a half-sister and nephew over alleged domestic violence — Solo continues to claims she is innocent — from 2014, while there was also the incident in 2015 involving Solo and her husband, Jerramy Stevens.

The latter was arrested and charged with a DUI after he and Solo took a team mini-van from the USWNT hotel in California and drove around the streets before being pulled over outside the team hotel by police with Solo reportedly dragged from the scene kicking and screaming. Solo was banned by U.S. Soccer for 30 days on Jan. 31, 2015 for that incident but was recalled by Jill Ellis for the 2015 World Cup and was a star during the USWNT’s World Cup win.

Those two unsavory incidents coupled with the huge wave of negativity from the people of Brazil at Rio 2016 — home fans booed Solo constantly and chanted “Zika” every time she kicked the ball after she posted several pictures on social media showing her preparing for the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil — were enough for U.S. Soccer to act in this manner when Solo gave them yet another reason to investigate her.

USWNT head coach Ellis flew to Seattle with Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer’s secretary general, to deliver the news of the suspension and although Solo will still be able to play for Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL (U.S. Soccer is reportedly handing her three months severance pay on the contract they terminated which also includes her salary for NWSL play) she will miss two upcoming games for the USWNT in 2016.

Will the USWNT be weaker without Solo? Of course they will but this ban shows they believe they are ready to move on without her. After 16 year and 202 caps with the USWNT, Solo is not indispensable anymore. She has been one of the greatest players in women’s soccer history and probably the greatest-ever goalkeeper. Yet, Gulati and U.S. Soccer had to make a firm stance after giving Solo chance after chance to clean up her act.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 03: Hope Solo #1 of United States looks on during the Women's Group G first round match between the United States and New Zealand during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Mineirao Stadium on August 3, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
(Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

It doesn’t take a master decoder to work out the subliminal message buried in Gulati’s comments in the statement released by U.S. Soccer.

In a nutshell it says: enough is enough. You were on your last chance and you blew it. It is highly likely than since January 2015 Solo has been repeatedly warned that if she steps out of line again there would be severe consequences.

Right now Solo will not be available to play for the U.S. until Feb. 2017 and even then it seems highly unlikely she will return. After a distinguished career on the pitch, Solo’s erratic behavior off it has finally caught up with her.

The lengthy ban for her outspoken rant against Sweden was undoubtedly excessive and there is a big question mark about the notion of free speech here. She spoke her mind vehemently about her distaste towards Sweden’s tactics but it wasn’t like Solo swore or used discriminatory language when speaking about Sweden. She just didn’t agree with their tactics.

Yet, that “coward” rant was likely the final straw in a long line of indiscretions which even Solo, perhaps one day, must admit have painted both herself and U.S. Soccer in a poor light over the past few years. She is outspoken and the passion, as misguided as it was, which fueled these comments is also what has taken her to the top of the game.

Sometimes, though, enough is enough. The punishment from U.S. Soccer for this specific outburst may seem harsh to many but it likely marks the end of Solo’s glittering, controversy filled, USWNT career.

STREAM: Women’s Olympic semifinals – Brazil v Sweden, Canada v Germany

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Well, this is strange.

The U.S. women’s national was beaten by Sweden on penalty kicks at the quarterfinal stage and now for the first time in Olympic history Team USA will not be competing in the semifinal round.

Focusing on the teams who did make it, hosts Brazil face Sweden, while Canada and Germany also do battle for a place in the gold medal match.

[ STREAM: Every game at Rio 2016 live ]  

The bronze and gold medal matches for women’s soccer take place on Friday, with the Olympic final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio. Will the hosts, led by superstar Marta, win Brazil’s first-ever gold medal for soccer in the Olympics ahead of the men’s team?

You can watch both games live online by clicking on the link above.

Below is the full schedule for the two semifinals taking place on Tuesday.


Women’s Semifinals

Brazil vs. Sweden – Aug. 16 12:00 p.m. EDT, Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

Canada vs. Germany – Aug. 16 3:00 p.m. EDT, Mineirao, Belo Horizonte

STREAM: Final group stage games of men’s Olympics soccer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The final group games of the men’s soccer tournament at Rio 2016 have arrived and there is still plenty on the line.

[ STREAM: Every game at Rio 2016 live

Most notably host nation Brazil, led by superstar Neymar, needs to beat Denmark to make the quarterfinals. Elsewhere just two of the eight spots for the next stage of the competition are locked up as goal differential could play a factor. Strap in, folks. This promises to be a fun afternoon and evening of Olympic soccer. You can find an explainer of who can qualify here.

Below is a full schedule for when each game is available to watch.

[ MORE: Who can qualify for QF? ]

All you have to do is hit the link above to stream every game live online.


Men’s Group D
Algeria-Portugal
Aug. 10 12:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group D
Argentina-Honduras
Aug. 10 12:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group C
Germany-Fiji
Aug. 10 3:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group C
South Korea-Mexico
Aug. 10 3:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group B
Colombia-Nigeria
Aug. 10 6:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group B
Japan-Sweden
Aug. 10 6:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group A
Denmark-Brazil
Aug. 10 9:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group A
South Africa-Iraq
Aug. 10 9:00 p.m. EDT

Donovan rues USMNT missing Rio 2016; sees big issues in US player development

Getty Images
3 Comments

Landon Donovan is disappointed the U.S. men’s national team is not in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics.

In fact, he’s sad.

[ MORE: Donovan on Swansea role ]

The 34-year-old former USMNT and Major League Soccer star had a taste of the Olympics in 2000 in Sydney and believes that the U.S. not qualifying for Rio is a “missed opportunity” to entice more fans to the sport in the USA.

[ MORE: Every PL season preview ]

Earlier we revealed exactly how Donovan is involved as part of an American ownership group which bought Premier League club Swansea City this summer, but the all-time leading goalscorer for the USMNT is still mainly concerned with issues on home soil.

How disappointing is it to sit back and watch the entire nation in awe of the Olympics but for the U.S. not to have a men’s soccer team in it?

“It is very disappointing. In the UK or other parts of the world it is not that big of a deal but for us in this country, we have a lot of fans who only tune in during the World Cup or during the Olympics. So we’ve missed this opportunity to have a bunch of people watch who wouldn’t normally be watching,” Donovan said. “So for us, that’s difficult because we only get so many opportunities to grow our sport that quickly. Our league is doing well. Our national team is doing well. But this is an opportunity that you can’t replace.”

Donovan was part of the 2000 Olympic squad which made it to the bronze medal match but lost to Chile and was the youngest member of that squad. He revealed the experience of competing with Team USA still resonates strongly with him today.

“Apart from the soccer part, it was just a really fun experience,” Donovan said. “That’s why it is sad for me that the men’s team isn’t the Olympics for the U.S. because it is a fun sporting experience but more than that it is just a fun life experience. For me it was really enjoyable, we did really well and almost earned a medal. I absolutely wish I had an opportunity to play in another one because I only got to play in one.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Landon Donovan of the United States dribbles the ball during the Olympic Men's Soccer competition at Sydney Stadium in Sydney, Australia on September 26, 2000. (Photo by Nick Wilson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Wilson/Getty Images)

What does Donovan make of the U.S. women’s team — Jill Ellis’ squad won Group G and will face Sweden in the quarterfinals — and how they’ve done at Rio 2016 so far as they aim to win their fourth-straight gold medal?

“I don’t think they’ve been perfect in the way that they’ve played but they’ve had good results and I think the goal in any tournament like this, for a team who has a real chance to win it, is to peak at the right time. They are playing well enough to win and if they can play better I don’t see any reason why they can’t win the tournament again.”

In terms of the men’s team, Donovan was unsure exactly why the U.S. U-23 side has been unable to qualify for both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics under Caleb Porter and Andi Herzog but he doesn’t believe it is strictly down to the talent level of the players.

“I don’t personally see it as a talent thing. When you say talent I assume you mean the amount of talented players that are born in this country and I think we have plenty of talented players,” Donovan said. “I think what we are lacking, and I think England probably sympathizes with too, is that we are not developing players at a high enough level yet. Countries that are consistently good in world football are the countries that are developing players consistently. That’s where we need to get better. That takes time. We haven’t had great youth coach’s because we’ve never had people who know what they are talking about. Now we actually have those people who are former professionals, former players at a high level who are teaching our kids. That will help a lot.”

Donovan is a big advocate of giving U.S. youngsters a chance to flourish in MLS but believes they aren’t getting the chance to do so. He is the head coach of the MLS Homegrown team who play during at the All-Star Game festivities each year and the former San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy forward is passionate about how the USA can develop better players consistently.

Looking at the bigger picture, how can the U.S. produce better players at a younger age who can not only go on to represent the U.S. in the Olympics but also the USMNT? Does the academy setup in Major League Soccer have a big role to play in the future if the U.S. is going to qualify for tournaments and do well on the international stage?

“There’s no question and it is part of the answer. You need 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 years olds players to get better and better. Equally as important for me is kids that are 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Right now we have too many coaches at that age who care about winning as opposed to caring out developing players and making them better. That’s a big problem, for me,” Donovan said. “If we ever want to get to the next level then we have to get that sort of mentality out of our game. We have to say that we want to develop players and we don’t care if we are making a ton of money or the next coaching gig is based on winning. If you’re an under 8s coach your next coaching gig should be about how many players you are developing. That’s where I think you get better.”

STREAM: Men’s Olympic soccer continues as hosts Brazil take center stage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The second round of group games take place in the men’s soccer tournament at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

[ STREAM: Every game at Rio 2016 live

Hosts Brazil face Iraq as they aim to grab their first win of the tournament, while Germany and Mexico both aim to kick on and grab a win after their 2-2 draw in the Group C opener. Argentina is up against it after losing to Portugal in their opening group game, with the South American giants facing Algeria in Group D. In Group B there’s an intriguing clash between Sweden and Nigeria as the latter sealed a remarkable 5-4 win against Japan after travel woes only just saw them arrive in the Amazonian city of Manaus on time.

Below is the full schedule for when each game is available to watch on Sunday.

[ MORE: USWNT beat France ]

All you have to do is hit the link above to stream every game live online.


Men’s Group C
Fiji-Mexico
Aug. 7 12:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group D
Honduras-Portugal
Aug. 7 2:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group C
Germany-South Korea
Aug. 7 3:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group D
Argentina-Algeria
Aug. 7 5:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group A
Denmark-South Africa
Aug. 7 6:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group B
Sweden-Nigeria
Aug. 7 6:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group A
Brazil-Iraq
Aug. 7 9:00 p.m. EDT

Men’s Group B
Japan-Colombia
Aug. 7 9:00 p.m. EDT