Hope Solo's Loose Talk: How Will US Olympic Women's Soccer Team React?
If all goes well for Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and the rest of the U.S. women's soccer team, they'll play for Olympic gold Aug. 9 in London.
Five days later, Solo will celebrate the release of her memoir, Solo: A Memoir of Hope, written with veteran reporter Ann Killion. The book promises to tell the story of her difficult family life. But the story might be about what Solo says about her past and present teammates.
Long before the USA's 2011 Women's World Cup run sent Solo to Dancing With The Stars, she vaulted into mainstream consciousness through controversy. She was the starter in the 2007 Women's World Cup until then-coach Greg Ryan made a shocking switch, bringing back accomplished but rusty veteran Briana Scurry for the semifinal against Brazil.
The USA lost 4-0. Solo responded with the infamous words: "There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves."
Somewhere behind closed doors, the team patched things up. New coach Pia Sundhage welcomed Solo back, and the USA won 2008 Olympic gold thanks in part to her magnificent shutout of Brazil in the final. By 2011, the incident seemed to be history.
Not that Solo has steered clear of controversy. Her Twitter diatribes about Women's Professional Soccer PR reps and fans earned punishment. Last year, her Twitter output mysteriously disappeared amid one of many spats between WPS and her team, magicJack.
Those incidents and the ongoing WPS-magicJack saga didn't affect the U.S. team last summer in Germany. And Solo's ESPN The Magazine comments on the wild side of the Olympic Village—Solo said she and a few others managed to sneak some celebrities past security and "I may have snuck a celebrity back to my room"—drew some criticism from Olympic journalism vets but shouldn't shake the team.
But revisiting the wounds of 2007 could be different. And this is what the promo type for Solo's book says about 2007: "(W)e see a woman of uncompromising independence and hard-won perseverance navigate the petty backlash against her. For the first time, she tells her version of that controversial episode, and offers with it a full understanding of her hard-scrabble life."
(The promo type also has an error, saying Solo had four shutouts before her benching in 2007. She actually gave up two goals in the opening game, a draw against North Korea, then had three shutouts.)
Will the book be charitable to her teammates? Here's what she has to say on the pre-Games interview circuit:
“For a long time, I still didn’t know if I wanted to fight the stupid popularity battles on the team,” she finally says. “I just wanted to be an athlete and compete. ‘If you don’t like me, I don’t give a f--k. This is our job.’ I would stay in my room. Not go shopping with the team. Not go to bowling parties. And it was always like, ‘Hope thinks she’s better than everybody. Hope’s not a team player.’ And I’m just ... I like my time to myself.”
A Smithsonian story simply says this, without any quotes: "Her autobiography, which will come out in August, will contain pointed criticisms of teammates."
Some of those teammates from 2007 are still her teammates. How will they react if any "pointed criticisms" come to light before the publication date, or before the Olympics are over?
Make no mistake -- Solo will always have plenty of support. She's charming in interviews and in the marathon autograph sessions to which U.S. players must grow accustomed. And she's still a fantastic goalkeeper.
What we don't know yet—perhaps we will after U.S. coach Pia Sundhage and some players greet the media from Britain—is how well Solo, Sundhage and her teammates have prepared for the past to leap into the present.
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