Friday, October 5, 2007

Flying Solo

The freeze-out continues. Hope Solo flew home from the World Cup alone, according to Gayle Bryan's blog.

Nothing says team togetherness like going to a competition together with 21 players and coming home with 20 and a changed ticket for the ostracized one.

Bryan also has some thoughts from Shannon MacMillian on her blog. One quote in particular stood out for me.

"I think that part of the reason people have fallen in love with our team over the years is because we have a respect for each other. Many times, fans have told us that they love that we’re not bashing each other, we’re not out there for the big dollars, we’re not out there getting in trouble. This just goes against the character and the fiber of this team and what it stood for."

Mac - I hate to break this to you, but people fell in love with your team because you were winners. Are Yankees fans really that crushed that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter aren't buddy-buddy any more? Not if they get the job done on the field. If they're as tight as Damon and Pythias, it doesn't matter if the team is losing.

It makes me cringe a bit to think how many girls might have bought into this - "They like us because we're good girls, because we never fight in public. We can't even want more money for our hard work, because that would appear selfish."

Bogus. The most successful women's sport in the world is tennis. I grant that except in certain competition formats, it's not really a team sport, but heck, I remember when Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis were doubles partners and Martina would get on Anna's case about her weak serve. The personalities on the tour are upfront with their statements and unapologetic about their competitive drive. They speak out about wanting equal prize money, they criticize others and themselves, basically, they're not out there playing nice - they're playing to win.

Hingis had some comments recently on Kournikova's chances for a comeback, when the Swiss Miss was asked if she would partner with the Russian again.

"She was okay," said the Swiss. "But she would have to train. I don't want to go out there and lose first round."

Blunt, but completely honest and accurate. No one is saying to Hingis, "Oh, you were right about Anna, but you shouldn't have said that. Let the press and the pundits say that - you should act like a lady."

Well, the obvious point is that team sports is a different story. The strange thing is that I'm not sure the women's teams isn't being incredibly short-sighted in their shunning of Solo. The farther they go to punish her, the less significant her crime seems, and the more that the attention turns, paradoxically, to the players on the squad, for appearing like unforgiving tyrants. It's as if Solo's statements deflected attention from Ryan, then the team's reaction and placing Solo out in the cold is once again diverting attention, and ultimately making the team look bad. Because nothing says, "respect for each other" like making someone eat alone and fly home alone.


Anonymous said...

Everything was right on, but that last paragraph simply NAILED it.

Jose said...

Ok, I thought the team was kind of stretching it by saying they didn't want Hope in the stadium during the third place game because she would be a distraction. That's definitely arguable. But making her fly home alone? WTF? Was she going to be too much of a distraction on the plane? These girls (yes, girls) should stop treating the team like a clique and learn how to maturely deal with conflict.

Albert said...

When do they reconvene for the Mexico game? Do you feel there has been unified effort of the USWNT member not to talk since they have returned?

JT (Chicago) said...

The turnout and the reception they receive at their "Victory Tour" matches against Mexico should give them an indication of what their fans think of the whole Solo situation.

Funny how the focus is now on the players and not the coach's tactics. Way to shift things Coach.

FC Uptown said...

Dear Shannon, who's character is really coming to light now, genius? Overcoddled, overindulged, spoiled, and now exposed, I hope USWNT 90210 goes down in flames on your "champion$hip Tour".

ghostwriter said...

I can't remember when I was so agitated about a sports event. Everytime I think of a coach needlessly sitting down a player who's been sprinkling her recently deceased father's ashes in the goal box before every game, arrrgh!
The player has loyalty duties to team and (maybe) coach, but the coach has reciprocal responsibilities. He failed her and then compounded it a hundredfold by refusing to admit complicity in the circumstances and allowing this 17th Century shunning. What's next, is she to be required to wear a big red T (for traitor, presumably) on her uniform jersey if she wants to remain with USWNT? Do they have any clue how BAD they look? I don't see how she could ever play for (or with, I suppose) these folks again.

Anonymous said...

What are we going to do about this incredible injustice? I can't believe what they are getting away with!

My heart goes out to Hope Solo.

From a Soccer Coach who knows a little about "Team Chemistry" and how not to destroy it!

glen said...

It's too bad, because Hope is a solid goalie who is still improving too loose her over something like this. I think she should have waited until after the world cup to make the statements but it's done now. Coaching errors/blunders should be on everyone's mind now, not Solo!!!

Sidenetting said...

These girls need to grow up, plain and simple. I would boo them off the field, if I had a chance. They have hung a teammate out to dry which is worse than a teammate making a mistake. I thought the definition of a team is covering each other's back. They have lost all my respect.

Sidenetting said...

Sign needed at next USWNT game...
"There's no Hope for unforgiving, classless teammates"...or something to that effect.

A.C. said...

More Solo emails:

-There is a scenario here which concerns me, hopefully needlessly, but the possible raw materials seem present. If Hope was, as seems likely (only 3 mos., after all), still grieving over the loss of her father when all this started; if she was, as I've seen reported, sprinkling some of his ashes in the goal box before each match, her outburst v. Ryan and Scurry could very well represent a reaction mediated by the anger phase of the grief "cycle". To make matters worse she's stated, I believe, that her Dad was the one she talked to when things went poorly. If all that's true, this subsequent shunning by the team is all the worse, removing much of whatever support group she had available in China, making her feel even more alone and inflicting a further loss with, as far as she can tell at the moment, the loss of her USWNT career, too. I don't know her. She's an athlete, so pretty tough but maybe also pretty stoic, bottling all these things one on top of the other inside. If all the above is true (probably a big if), there's no telling what her state of mind might be.

Not that it's any of my darn business, but I'd feel better knowing she was OK and getting lots of support from family and friends right now, both in and out of the soccer world, eating right, sleeping OK, laughing a little, and mending from what HAD to have been something, at least, of an ordeal.

I've been a fan of women's and particularly US Women's soccer since the late Akers, early Hamm days (along with everybody else). I thought Solo was one of the bright young talents and faces on the new US squad. Neither Lilly nor Scurry are the future of the team, obviously, but Solo might have been one of a core of younger players that could have been. It's a crime to lose her to this kind of awful, excessive political (well, relative to this team anyway) correctness. But I don't see how she can play with or for these folks any time soon. Maybe a year for a club squad overseas and then the new US Pro league, which can't get here soon enough for women's soccer in this country (and if it goes, maybe the world). But she seems too good a keeper and too marketable not to find a new gig. I just hope she's OK.

Sadly, after this disgrace, the USWNT is going to have to clean some house to entice me back into their fan fold….. as if they care!

-I am disgusted with the team and especially Ryan. Should he continue at the helm I'll be finding another sport to crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to support.

-I have studied this in recent days and have reached out to US Soccer to register my disappointment with the lack of backbone and moral clarity that they have demonstrated.
The elephant in the room now is what the hell are they (US Soccer) going to do about it. The fan base recognizes the egregious / draconian treatment of this scapegoat and beckons closure, some sort of statement and reconciliation. Meanwhile, young girls across the country are troubled at the decision and smell the injustice, in light of the fact that Hope apologized. US Soccer can go underground and package this controversy now as a behind the doors negotiation with the Ryan, but the organization's unfair and venemous alienation of their contributing team-mate Solo echos every day that this is a team and organization that lacks moral clarity, an independent voice, and the sensibility to recognize the implications and costs of not closing this issue out with the public. The sore is due to become infected unless they treat it, and the resulting body that sickens will be the body of trust and faith in US Women's Soccer.
Sunil (or whoever heads up US Soccer) needs to read your scapegoat article, if he has not already. The responsibility is now his and, in the absence of a formal, explicit message from US Soccer, he will be the next and appropriate target, in this reverse cascade (Solo, to Ryan, to Sunil). His window of opportunity to address this is closing, but maybe he will surprise us all with a statement that might redeem the organization. People are pissed off at the tricky manipulation of what has happened and I am one of them.

-Coach Ryan has purposely amplified Hope's mistake. It distracts
everyone from all his more important mistakes. A really good coach would have done a better job:
• the selection of Bri over Hope was very disruptive and universally
seen as "over coaching".
• having made that error, he needed to head off the obvious reaction
from Hope. Why not utilize more experienced players or a team
psychologist to speak with Hope.
• oh ya, they left the team psychologist in the US. But, I bet they brought along other vital folks... i.e. PR people to help cover the coaching errors.
I'm VERY disappointed that Lilly and Wambach didn't help avoid the
problem with Hope. And, now they've piled on to defend Ryan; kicking
Hope while she's down in the process. Those guys need to change
direction and overtly help resolve this issue with our strongest
It would be refreshing and honorable if Ryan would come forward and take some of the responsibility for what has happened. If he doesn't,
then I think the opposite is true... stale and dishonorable.
Let's see how this effects our team for the Olympics. Could be sad.

Anonymous said...

Reading the blog you sourced, nowhere does it say that Hope was made to eat alone. Also, the blog's author doesn't know why Hope flew home alone, if it was her choice or the team's, so how could you know?

A.C. said...

Read more of the blog - the article that specified that Solo had to eat alone was already linked. It was apparent from that article that all these moves were ones where Solo was not given a choice in the situation.

ditch said...

I can't find it in cyber space, but I seem to remember Keller made Solo-like comments after the 2002 USA Poland group game. Anyone else remember that.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing makes me sick. We are freezing out the best goalie in the world. I can't support this team anymore.