By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Like many young female soccer players, especially goalies, St. Bonaventure junior goalkeeper Beth Moore once looked up to U.S. women’s national team keeper Hope Solo.
But Moore has no sympathy for Solo after the six-month suspension and termination of her national team contract.
“I think after the numerous incidents that have occurred, it’s become clear that she’s not a role model off the field,” Moore said. “On the field, she’s a great goalkeeper, but I think the punishment is well deserved after everything that’s happened over the years.”
The 35-year-old Solo, who has competed for the national team since 2000, was given the punishment by U.S. Soccer last Wednesday for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.”
In an interview after the U.S.’s penalty shootout loss to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals, the Richland, Washington native called the Swedes “a bunch of cowards.”
“They didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer,” Solo said. “It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their gameplay was… I don’t think they’re going to make it far in the tournament.”
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement that the comments “were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players… 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.”
Those past incidents Gulati and Moore were referring to are a whole laundry list.
The controversy started in 2007, when Solo criticized then-coach Greg Ryan for benching her in favor of Briana Scurry after a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 World Cup semifinals.
Solo was arrested in 2014 and charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault in the fourth degree, one against her half-sister and another against her nephew. That case is still open.
Jerramy Stevens, Solo’s husband, was arrested for DUI in 2015 while driving a U.S. Soccer team van with Solo in the vehicle. Solo was suspended from the team for 30 days after the incident.
After all these incidents, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and 2015 World Cup champion was on a short leash, and the comments about Sweden were the final straw.
“I don’t agree with what she’s done in the past or what she said. I think she’s being a sore loser about it,” junior defender Sydney Cassagnol said. “I think her punishment was deserved if they’re thinking about everything she’s done that’s accumulated, and I would hope that if it was a male player that had done the same things, he would get the same punishment.”
Bonnies coach Steve Brdarski agreed with his players.
“(Solo) has repeatedly said, acted or represented her team and country in an unprofessional way,” Brdarski said. “I think many look at just the Olympics, but that’s not the only thing she’s done.”
Sweden’s defensive tactics against the U.S., implemented by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, were chalked up to good soccer strategy, not cowardice.
“I think in regards to the quote at Rio, I disagree with her. I think Sweden had a great gameplan and they played with great heart,” Brdarski said. “The USA is the defending World Cup champions and if you don’t defend against them well you will lose. Sweden scored a great counter-attacking goal and played as a team.”
“If you’re playing a team that’s very skilled in the attacking half, obviously you want to sit in and defend,” Cassagnol said. “I think that’s just a basic soccer strategy; I don’t think it’s being a coward or anything like that. You’re playing to win, and that’s how they wanted to win.”
As a coach, Brdarski preaches respect and playing the game the right way. Solo no longer fits the bill.
“To be a great player you have to have respect for your teammates, coaches, opponents, the history of the team and players who came before you and the younger players who follow the game,” he said.
“Win or lose you should always have that.”