Back to reality, anyone who follows soccer knows that the U.S. women have been quite a force on the international stage since that 1999 shirt-stripping victory. However, the most famous incident is not one that happened on the field, but in an interview off it. A head-strong goalie by the name of Hope Solo blasted the American coach, Greg Ryan, for benching her for the 2007 World Cup semi-final against Brazil playing a hunch that the former no.1 goalkeeper, Briana Scurry, would do a better job.
The ploy backfired and the U.S. lost, 4-0. It’s understandable why Solo would be furious, but she also looked like a sore loser for criticizing her coach and throwing Scurry “under the bus.” She was kicked off the squad and there was a question whether her teammates would ever welcome her back. Solo did receive some sympathy from the public because she was refreshingly candid and, more importantly, right. She also put women’s soccer back in the headlines, which, for better or worse, never hurts.
As usually happens, once international competition ceased nobody paid any attention to women’s soccer. Not many people realized that Solo had gotten back on the national team by the time of the 2008 Olympics and helped lead it to a gold medal. She was in the news again in 2011 when the U.S. beat Brazil in an epic World Cup quarterfinal. She became recognized as the best goalkeeper in the world after the U.S. finished runner-up to Japan (on those stupid penalty kicks!) and then rebounded to beat Japan in the 2012 Olympic gold medal match.
The inner workings, camaraderie and petty rivalries of the U.S. women’s national team are illustrated by Solo in her new autobiography, “Solo: A Memoir of Hope.” She not only provides the entire story of what went on behind the scenes during the 2007 World Cup controversy, but what she went through to regain the team’s acceptance. It’s questionable whether she ever really became part of the “team” again. Solo was just too talented not to be a part of it (especially with a new coach!).