Wow. So the U.S. really got it handed to them yesterday, with a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the Semi-finals (for those of you that care, the U.S. will play in the 3rd place game against Norway on Saturday). So what of the young goalie, Hope Solo, who was pulled before the Brazil game in favor of U.S. goalie legend Brianna Scurry? Well, she’s pretty pissed.
“It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that…There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. … You have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past.” (NOTE: you can find the video here)
Let me be the first to say, that that was unexpected. I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of athletes that feel the way Solo does/did, but how many of them actually literally say what they’re thinking? Not very many.
Did Solo make the right decision with her comments? That all depends on how her teammates and coach take the comments. Solo did what she needed to do, by letting her coach know she was upset with the decision (although a closed door discussion would have accomplished the same thing), but she also, maybe inadvertently came off as very egotistical. Her comments make it sound like if she was playing team USA wins, but without her, its a team full of scrubs…this on top of the obviously negative light it shines on Scurry.
What happens now? Coach Greg Ryan has some healing to do. He replaced a hot goalie, Solo hadn’t given up a goal in the last 3 games, with a legendary goalie…who hadn’t played in the last 3 months. More importantly, he almost shunned Solo before the Brazil game,
Ryan was asked if benching Solo, who has played 52 times internationally for the United States, would hurt her long-term confidence. “That’s not our concern,” Ryan said. “We came here trying to win a world championship; put the players on the field that we thought could win each game.”
Are you kidding me? maybe you internally feel that way, but you don’t say it like that…Especially when you already know Solo is pissed and she’s the goalie of the future (and the present). If there was ever a time to use some tact…well, you just waved “bye-bye” to that moment as it went past. The other problem with the benching? A lack of team cohesiveness. Soccer especially from a goalie standpoint, is all about communication; the goalie telling defenders where to go, or when to get out of the way, etc. By practicing with each other and playing with each other, a goalie and her teammates effectively reach a point where they know how to play off of each other, and what the other person is going to do (is this not how it is in every sport?). When you bring in somebody fresh that cohesiveness no longer exists. Don’t believe me? look at the first goal scored by Brazil in the game (the own goal). There were no Brazilians in the picture! That goal was a result of a breakdown in communication. Scurry could have just as easily told the defenders to move out of the way, and she could have caught that ball herself without being in any danger…that obviously, did not happen. And just on a side note, when did soccer become like baseball? In baseball, a manager might bring in a left-hander to face a right hander because the left hander is a specialist; right handers don’t hit him well. Soccer doesn’t work like that. As Solo alluded to in her comments, this was 2007, not 1998. The fact that Scurry, over her career has played well against Brazil is completely irrelevant, especially in soccer where players usually only play 6 or 8 years.
As I said earlier, Greg Ryan has some healing to do. He’s had his hot, goalie of the future, speak openly against his decision, that coupled with the fact that they lost, has the potential to fracture the whole team USA dynamic. In Greg Ryan’s hindsight, maybe he thinks he made the wrong decision? The bigger problem though, is that no one else needed hindsight.
ESPN Soccernet: U.S. calls on veteran Scurry to play goalie against Brazil
ESPN Soccernet: Ryan looking to reconcile with outspoken Solo
UPDATE: Hope Solo apologizes