Friday, October 19, 2007

Changing history

Steve Davis weighs in on the USWNT.

I've pointed it out before, but I want to ruminate a little on the irony of how Greg Ryan won the USWNT job. Davis mentions that Ryan didn't have the most impressive credentials at the start, and mentions that the media let that slide.

However, it's worth noting again that Ryan wasn't handed the job outright. He was appointed as an interim, a natural choice given that the team had games on the schedule and he was the top assistant at the time.

When Ryan took a young and untested squad to the 2005 Algarve Cup championship, defeating world #1 Germany along the way, he did so in large part on the strength of Hope Solo's terrific performance in goal during that tournament. With the title giving weight to his campaign, Ryan won the job.

It's highly likely that if Solo hadn't played so well, Ryan wouldn't have become her coach.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing everyone this important message that part of the reason that Greg Ryan got his head coach job was due to Hope Solo's outstanding performance in the Algarve Cup Championship in 2005. Is there any way to remind Greg Ryan of this? we are humans, I think he would realize to apprecaite Hope who helped him in the past, and give Hope an opportunity to play in this final US vs. Mexico game. It may be wise that the main goal of Hope's suppoters is to find some ways (could be some freindly ways to get support from her team and US soccer leaders) for Hope to play more. Dina

Anonymous said...

Oh, the irony of it all indeed.

From the 2005 Algarve Cup post match report:

Ryan on U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo:

"Hope was incredible. In the Finland game, she had to make three great saves, and close down a breakaway, and she got confidence and momentum from that game. Because of her performance there, we went with her in the Denmark game and she threw a shutout again. Tonight, we had some much confidence in her. That last high ball that went into the mix, she was going to have to catch it or we were going to be in trouble, and she went up into a crowd of some really tall German women and just stuck it. So her steady play gave us some tremendous confidence."

Hope had 3 straight clean sheets in that tournament too!

She also won the award for top Keeper in the following years Algarve Cup too. They lost that one on PK's but she was still the top keeper! Still havent figured out why that one isn't a loss in the world of USSF?

Nice little thank you for dancing with the one who brought ya there Coach.

These facts just make it all the more outrageous.


Anonymous said...


As much as the brass would like the fire to go out and extinguish all Hope, the embers are still burning and occasional articles still fan the flames.

It now seems very likely that Ryan will survive until (his contract expires at) the end of the year, however.

Taking all the known variables into account, what would you say the odds are that Ryan will not be retained (and instead replaced)?

Having survived the possibility of immediate dismissal, doesn't it now seem likely that he will be retained (at least) through the Olympics?

MC said...

Now that's the textbook definition of irony.

Anonymous said...

O.K., so this just adds more fuel to the "makes no sense" conspiracy theory.

Some final thoughts on this, Ghostwriter.

When you look back over the past 2 years, try as one might to make some sense, any sense of it all, you just can't.

The apology posted on ussoccer was likely a condition of Hope remaining with the WNT, as unfair as this may seem as it was her third or fourth apology. It was likely written by someone else? This may just be the USSF idea of damage control and showing who's in charge?

On Hope not dressing & if it was her idea, she hasn't breached her contract if Ryan & the USSF agreed to it. If they hadn't agreed, she likely would have dressed. Many of us have wondered if it was in fact Hope's idea? I'm sort of convinced she will never agree to playing for this man again so that would have factored into her choice, if it was hers? Come January, she either knows that Ryan won't be there or is buying some time to see if he will be before SHE decides what to do. So this made sense for her to just get through these 3 games as this is it till January. Note in her apology the line that says " but I understand that I have a lot of work to do with my teammates and that is my focus moving forward." Note teammates, not teammates AND Coach being her focus moving forward.

I believe Hope emotionally crashed when Ryan did the Keeper switch, dealing with the passing of her Father in June, dedicating the World Cup to him, playing for him & only him, etc. This would be a reason for the WNT to agree to her suggestion. Grief hits people in different ways. Hope was likely running on pure adrenalin since her Dad passed away. Ryan really put the emotional screws to her, for whatever reason? The "I don't care about her confidence" down the road was icing on the cake. She broke down. This easily explains her speaking out, which I do believe she intended to be at her coach only, not teammate, unless there is indeed more to the whole thing? She waited until all was lost after the semi to speak as she would have felt she would be back in for the Final if they got there, based on Ryan's reasoning for the switch. Then she could finish the promise she made to her Dad, to play for him in the World Cup and win it for him. Oh my, this is sooo hollywood.

I agree for the reasons you have stated that there is something deeper, possibly very personal, at work here with the switch?

I have thought from the beginning that nothing makes any sense here from a coaching perspective. You simply can't script it any better then this. Hollywood indeed!

The facts need to, and I think will, come out at some point. As it sits, there is no logical explanation for it all. There is a limit to keeping everything "in family" and this situation and the facts suggest we are outside those limits on this one. Ohhh the drama!

IF there is nothing else to it then Ryan stated when making the switch, then he is just plain & simple incompetent.

Either way, he needs to be replaced. If that is best done by simply not renewing his contract, then so be it.


Anonymous said...

Posted by Boltgirl on the loose on her blog.

Excellent stuff Boltgirl!

To the Fed

Hey, USSF person, if I do have your attention... can you do something, please?

Do you have any idea how badly I want to love this team, how I have waited for the past two years, watching more and more nervously for something to happen during this long slow decline into Route One bootball?

How I have fidgeted with increasing uneasiness as the program flailed around for the next Golden Girl who would carry on the cult of straight-girl-next-door personality the '99ers established as the only way soccer would hit the mainstream in this country?

How my own teammates and I have been left gaping at the trainwreck of the Brazil game and its aftermath? When the program closes ranks not to solve problems caused by a coach and a system that have been exposed as ineffective, but to tag one player as a scapegoat over and over and over and then one more time for good measure, you've lost me.

When you feed into the worst stereotypes of Mean Girls and middle-school cliques rather than proving yourselves athletes above everything else (hello, Nike?), you've lost me.

1999 is over. 2004 is over. Mia has retired. Thousands of young, capable, creative players are waiting in the ODP pools. What are you doing to ensure that creativity isn't being strangled out of them? What lesson are you hoping to teach by the performance and behavior of the senior National Team? That hard work and performance matter? Or that carrying the banner of the last truly successful team trumps everything else?

Are you worried when you see little girls carrying signs that say "I love Mia?" Are you nonplussed when Nike markets more shirts with Mia's name and number than any other player's? You should be.

I want to love this team. I want to see my support echoed by a Federation that understands the value of meaningful live competition and international club play. I want to see my support echoed by the Fed's official partner (hello, Nike), not a series of demeaning ads that parody the lack of marketing and team development we've had in the past several years.

But beyond that I want a group I can support. The "team" we have seen since the end of the World Cup is not the team I thought it was. When the team leader says out loud that no one's really sure what went wrong at the Cup, I worry. When the team leaders continue to pile on Hope Solo rather than addressing the overall problems with tactics and personnel that desperately need addressing, I worry.

I want my team back, USSF person.

Thanks for your time.

joejoejoe said...

Compare how the USWNT is handling this to what Chelsea and Didier Drogba are going through right now. Drogba said something far worse than Hope Solo ("Something is broken with Chelsea,...The damage is big in the dressing-room.") and then apologized.

Want to bet we see Drogba playing for Chelsea if he's fit? Because Chelsea takes it's soccer seriously and the USWNT team thinks world competition is about juice boxes and hugs. You play your best XI if you are trying to win. I'm not sure what the USWNT team is trying to do but it's not about fielding their best side and that's a disgrace.

I'm a big fan of women's athletics and in all my time watching all kinds of women's college sports and Olympic and international competition I've NEVER seen a competitor blackballed for telling the truth in the heat of the moment and players (and coaches and management) who stunk out the joint REWARDED for failing to accept responsibility for their own performance.

Der FuƟballhund said...

Drogba didn't exactly apologize,
"On reflection, I regret making the comments I made in a recent interview public at this time," Drogba said in a statement on Chelsea's Web site Friday.

I'm sure he'll play if he's healthy. Chelsea can't afford not to play him.

Anonymous said...

quote taken from the article about the 2005 Algarve Cup, which the US WMT won:

"...the first time in 10 trips to this tournament that the USA had achieved the remarkable feat of going all four games without allowing a goal."

what more needs to be said?

ghostwriter said...

Thanks for those thoughts.

I would like to think it's Hope's idea not to dress, 'cause maybe it's better for her that way than sitting there dressed but not playing by somebody else's choice (although it does emphasize her continuing separation from the team proper). Two things, in my mind against that: 1) They've not cut her any other breaks and 2) the public appology is curious if their intent is to handle these issues quietly within the team, not in the media.

I think the Davis article prompting these comments maybe also provides some rationale for believing that this (like most other) conspiracy theories is cock-eyed. He says that the Ryan reputation before USWNT was for "unconventional ways on leadership and player management". So maybe the switch was just one of those unconventional "ways". It is so "unconventional" that if I could come up with a motive for any other party putting him up to it (those I can think of don't make hardly any sense either) I'd still not believe it, but....

I just feel SO bad for this young woman. How many cruel blows can she take? She loses her Dad suddenly, I believe that the ESPN piece that aired during the WC also said one of her best friends died in a car crash just before WC, then her starting job is taken away on what seems a whim by a coach she thought she could trust, she has to listen while he tells the world that it's not only her teammate's experience he wants but her superior skill set thus suggesting he no longer thinks his starting keeper for the last two years is good enough to play in a big game, then she gets no support from her teammates who act as if they're happy she got sat down, then she watches her dream of winning the WC in memory of her father die while her team plays just awful in front of her replacement and unfortunately loses her emotional control in front of TV cameras and says stuff that horrifies her later, then she gets for all intents and purposes cut from the team with all the attendant "shunning" that went with it, is excluded from the medal ceremony despite her contribution to winning it, told to fly home alone, gets repeatedly slammed by her teammates in the press, is then obliged to read another public appology, has to sit on the sidelines in street clothes while her teammates seemingly continue to ignore her, apparently refusing to accept any appology she's made or make public sign of granting any measure of the forgiveness she's been begging them for.

I worry about her (my own daughter is her age) and I root with all my heart for her to pull though, for Ryan to get what's comming to him ( a place in the Unemployment line), and for her teammates to come to their senses. Solo plays in net (or did before all this rubbish) with an agression, athleticism, sureness, and presence that is matched by only the best of keepers I've seen. The team needs to trust that and forget she had an emotional meltdown on camera at a time she was under more stress than any one grieving 26 year old ought to have to handle.

I can only hope my natural pessimism is misplaced and that this whole saga ends better than I worry it will.

Thanks to AC for her work at keeping on with Hope's story and for all you "fellow travelers" on this issue who'd like to see a revamped US side return to playing possession and passing soccer with HS in net.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Ghost. I agree with everything. As a 30 year old woman, who has been critical of the drop off in the last few years of young female role models, to me Hope was like a breath of fresh air. I am so SICK of this "good girls do what the coach says and always follow the rules". What kind of lesson is this? Yes teamwork is important and yes we should respect our coaches, but sometimes, when someone makes a decision that is so unjustified and unreasonable you HAVE to speak up for yourself. Isn’t this the kind of values we want to instill in women: to stand up for yourself? Even if you disagree with what solo said or what she was talking about, fact is she was speaking from the heart. She felt screwed and she didn’t buy the reasons, and what is more her teammates thought so little of her that they acted like the change was on par with a last minute uniform change. That had to hurt. Then in the aftermath, rather than just benching her, they ban her? and then continue the silent treatment for WEEKS? Abby used to be my favorite player, my idol, but after this I don't even know if I can clap for her. If she apologized along with the rest of the team to Solo that would be one thing (apparently I’m bigger on forgiveness) but short of that I just do not know. And can someone explain to me why you do not see this same sorority crap (at least publically) in other national teams (basketball, softball, etc.). It is also not confined to this team; there were cliques when the 99’s were there as well.

PS , it wasn’t a car crash but rather one of her lifelong best friends was hit by a car in Seattle running and was killed, just two weeks before solo’s father died.


Anonymous said...

A.c You should post this whole blog article, its awesome.

here is my favorite part
So, Hope opened her mouth on TV.
Not because she said anything great- I mean honestly, had she worded it differently that fucktard coach would probably already be fired- but BECAUSE SHE SAID ANYTHING AT ALL.
What a lot of people don't know is that a US Soccer PR guy was standing right there, first telling the reporter not to talk to Hope because she didn't play and then not letting Brianna Scurry, the player Hope "threw under the bus," say anything at all.
And Brianna, a member of the old guard, said, "He's the boss" and walked away.
Hope said, "Don't you tell me who can interview me ever again."

And THAT'S why she's great.

She's EXACTLY what US Soccer wants in it's women players- gorgeous, talented, etc. They had already started marketing her and her young teammates just like they did with the Mia crowd.

And she said fuck that, I'M REAL.

They chalked up her being left out of the last game to the other players feeling she had "broken an unwritten team code." Yeah, SURE. She basically said that it's time to move on past the old years and that the new girls might actually be BETTER. And the old girls on the team didn't like that. Neither did the old girls commentating during the games. Someone didn't fall at the Mia team's feet and beg them to return because no one else could ever live up to them.


And UH-OH, people might actually figure out that they're not all shiny perfect! They might wonder if they've had sex! And might drink! And might be OH NO DON'T SAY IN THE WORLD OF WOMEN'S SPORTS BECAUSE BE NEVER EVER EVER TALK ABOUT THIS PART be lesbians. And don't go home every break to their loving parents and boyfriends and bake cupcakes for the PTA in between their training sessions!

You think I'm exaggerating? US Soccer actually posted a rather large picture of one of the player's hands with her engagement ring on their website a while back. Their Player's Yearbook I bought for Soccer Chick at the game in June makes A POINT to mention husbands for every player that has one, but all the single girls get about their non-soccer lives is "I really like cheese. It's my favorite, since I'm from Wisconsin."

No shit."