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U.S. Women's National Team

Is It Time for US Soccer to Cut Ties with Hope Solo?

After Hope Solo's latest run in with the authorities, ASN columnist John Halloran argues that the American program needs to rid itself of the star goalkeeper despite her considerable talent.
BY John D. Halloran Posted
January 26, 2015
11:34 AM
ONE OF THE GREATER ironies of sports—and perhaps life—is that what makes athletes great on the field often leads to their downfall off it. Such seems to be the case regarding the latest events in the troubled life of United States national team goalkeeper Hope Solo.

There's always been an edge—a toughness—to Solo, a self-confidence forged in the fire of a difficult childhood. But that edge—and a seeming inability to judge right from wrong—may have just cost Solo her career.

On Tuesday, TMZ first reported that Solo's husband, Jerramy Stevens, was arrested for DUI in Los Angeles on Monday night. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that Solo was in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Then on Wednesday night, U.S. Soccer announced that Solo would be leaving the national team camp and be suspended for 30 days.

At the time, the decision seemed to be a cumulative response by the federation. After all, the "incident" as U.S. Soccer called it, came only six days after domestic violence charges against Solo had been dismissed in a Washington court. But then more details began to emerge. ISolo failed to tell team officials about the arrest—which took place at 2 a.m.—and that Stevens had been...wait for it...driving one of U.S. Soccer's team vans when the couple was pulled over.

When Solo was arrested this summer on the domestic violence charges, U.S. Soccer, head coach Jill Ellis, and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati all gave Solo the benefit of the doubt. She was not suspended from the team and the legal process was rightly allowed to take its course.

The case was eventually dismissed for a lack of evidence—stemming primarily from the fact that the two alleged victims in the assault refused to be deposed.

The dismissal of charges only seems to have emboldened Solo to continue on with even more bizarre behavior. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising considering Solo's past incidents. In 2007, Solo called out then-head coach Greg Ryan and teammate Briana Scurry following the team's loss to Brazil in the World Cup semifinals. Then, during the 2012 Olympics, Solo got into a fight on Twitter with former U.S. international Brandi Chastain. That fall, Stevens, then Solo's boyfriend, was arrested for assaulting her. The charges were dropped and the two married the day after.

Then came her arrest this summer, and then Monday night's events.

When incidents like this occur, it's easy to take to the Twitter-sphere and crack jokes. But there is a real person here—and one who appears to be deeply troubled.

The problem for Ellis is that Solo is one of the best, if not the best, goalkeeper in the world. Based on talent alone, there is no doubt that the team would be better off with her on the field next summer in Canada.

But it's become patently obvious over the past few months that these are not, and likely won't remain, isolated incidents. Solo has proven that she won't—or can't—control her behavior and it has become a major distraction to the team.

Staying out until 2 a.m. during a national team camp that is preparing for friendlies against England and France five months before a World Cup is disrespectful to her teammates, the coaches, the support staff, and the fans. Many of the women currently in the U.S. camp are battling every day in training just to earn a place on the team. Seeing Solo, a well-established star, flaunt rules—and common sense—so blatantly, will likely lead to resentment if she is allowed back on the team.

When Solo faced her troubles this summer, U.S. Soccer, Ellis, and Gulati had her back. Solo has repaid that faith by acting out yet again. It's time for Ellis and the team to seriously consider cutting ties with their troubled star and forging on to Canada without her.

John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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