"Lost in the sturm und drang over the Hope Solo affair at last year's Women's World Cup was a painful truth: The U.S. was playing ugly soccer," writes Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, who looks forward to the American women playing a better brand of soccer under Coach Pia Sundhage, who took over after the third-place finish at the 2007 Women's World Cup.
In the semifinal loss - for which Solo was controversially benched by Coach Greg Ryan - "Brazil exposed the Americans' lack of imagination ... but even when the U.S. was winning, it was doing so with brute force, overly defensive tactics and a reliance on thumping long balls ..."
Wahl says Sundhage has junked the long-ball approach and instituted a ground-based short-passing attack that goes through the midfield and not over it.
"We stripped our team of everything we knew about the game of soccer and implemented a new style of play," Solo says. "It's supposed to be a beautiful game."
The Americans open their Olympic campaign Aug. 6 against Norway.