Monday, October 1, 2007

Speak no evil

It's possible that Sunil Gulati, the President of U.S. Soccer, faces a weird quandry. Frankly, so many have spun Hope Solo's comments as a complete betrayal of her team that if Gulati decides to replace Greg Ryan, he may be seen as supporting a complaining athlete.

That's another P.R. fiasco.

On the other hand, enough knowledgeable soccer people are upset about what's gone on with the team that it's hard to believe the federation can stand by and do nothing.

What I find curious is how Solo's words have been given so much power. I agree with one of our readers here, that what she said should never have been such a big deal. But it has grown into that.

She is now paying the price.

Via an email from a U.S. Soccer insider:

If Hope had the maturity to not feel like she has to blurt out during a highly emotional time, despite the advice of [the team press officer] to the contrary, she would have been playing in the third-place match and the only one on the hot seat would be Greg Ryan.


joel m said...

Hey Andrea, not to turn this into a Zapruder-like frame-by-frame analysis, (but I will anyway), a poster from Ives Galarcep's blog, says the following:

"Solo didn't seek out the press. The reporter who asked her the question was waiting in the walk through on the way to the locker room. He asked her the question as she was walking by after the game, on her way to the locker room. She walked past him without answering, and the press officer from USSF who was escorting her gave the reporter some line about players who don't play can't talk to the media. That's when Solo blew up, turned around, and gave the soundbite everyone's heard, and then ripped the press guy a new one on the way to the locker room."

Of course, this is just a post on a blog, and I haven't seen this reported anywhere else. It would be nice to know if it was true or false, because if it's true, it means the PR people (or at least this one) failed in their job to protect the athletes, even if it's from themselves.

A.C. said...

Joel, it was Erin Paul of the CBC who asked Solo the question.

She's a respected Canadian journalist.

Here's the link to her version of the event.

JT (Chicago) said...

I'm watching the Padres-Rockies extra inning Wild Card tiebreaker game tonight and as the studio guy gets ready to throw it back to the crew at Coors Field for the 12th inning, he says "... about the only player we haven't seen tonight in Hope Solo".

Amazing that a women's soccer player is getting a mention on an October broadcast of "America's Pastime".

joel m said...


This is all so terribly unjust.
I can't help but think that if this PR person had some shred of empathy and had taken 10 seconds to say "please take a deep breath and don't say anything you'll regret later" to Solo, or at the very least, had the decency to understand how insulting the line about not talking to players who don't play could be, that we'd be talking about something else today.

Understandably, it was a chaotic moment, and perhaps I'm holding the PR person up to an unreasonable standard. But isn't it their job to defuse moments like this?

I don't blame Erin Paul for reporting the moment. That's -her- job. It was great news. But, according to her account, this wasn't a self-absorbed malcontent with a long-standing axe to grind. It was a passionate person who had been dealt a final insult and reacted with great emotion.

Anonymous said...

If she is indeed "master of her own fate" then she blew it...

Zach said...

Hey Andrew, love the blog. Anyway, I go to school at Oberlin College and was here playing PDL in Cleveland when the US Women trained before taking part in the US vs China game at Browns Stadium earlier this summer. I thuroughly watched every training session as I am an aspiring coach and certain players because I too am a player. Ryan's training sessions were complete crap. The defense would go off to one half of the field hitting long balls at eachother and working on shape that any 12 year old could be taught while the attacking players seperated as he laid out some goal and basically threw a ball into play.
I was not impressed with either the defensive of attacking sessions. Often, he would stop the flow of the mini-game to comment on something pretty pointless and again the game would have to pick up. His style and inadequacy as a coach were apparent from observing an hour of the first session. Nothing was there, no tactical approach, no match preperation, nothing. The women still played every moment hard and to them I give complete credit, but the level of coaching was dreadful.
It was more that obvious during the WWC. The semi-final of course is the most obvious point to pick on. I don't understand how any high level coach against a possession team would say not to possess the ball, and on top of that, anytime they get the ball in the middle of their midfield to not foul to take away their flow. Anytime Brazil got the ball moving they were dangerous as Ryan's stubborness like his predecessors came back to haunt the team.
Anyway, back to Oberlin for a second. I was observing the goalkeeper battle initially because Hope Solo is gorgeous, but then because loud screams can be heard from Scurry. Observing the two of them it was apparent that Solo was sound, collected, and cool while stopping the majority of the shots against her. Scurry on the other hand was a hothead who saw balls hit both her hands and find the net, or roll under her arms. As soon as the news that Solo wouldn't start broke to the press, I immediately knew the game was over. Coaching 101: If your backline is effective, don't change the chemistry.
I know this sounds like a rant but I'm still frustrated at the fact that someone with juvenille coaching skills can head one of the greatest women's sides in the world, it's a disgrace that US Soccer doesn't know how to choose coaches and would rather settle for an easy choice instead of fighting for the right choice.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this has turned up in comments to other entries, but here's a story from the 2004 Olympics.

``I put myself into that entire game,''(Scurry) said. ``And I've always felt -- and I still feel -- that if I were playing, we would have won.'' Of course, in this case Scurry was (indirectly) talking about a player no longer on the team when she throws Siri Mullinix under the bus.