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Solo's latest rant is nothing new for her
by Ridge Mahoney, July 31st, 2012 1:30AM

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TAGS:  olympics, women's national team

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Hope Solo is the best women’s goalkeeper in the world right now and if she’s not the best to ever play for a women’s national team, she’s certainly right up there.

To make this assessment, we have to delve into the past, of course, and compare Solo with the top-class goalies to have preceded her. There’s Americans -- Briana Scurry, Mary Harvey – to consider, as well as former German internationals Silke Rottenberg and Nadine Angerer, Norway’s near-legendary Bente Nordby, Gao Hong of China, and so on.

We bring up the past not to answer this pressing question and thus end all debate, but rather to illustrate how obsessed Solo seems to be with “the past” while she downplays, or ridicules, its importance. In the aftermath of the USA’s 3-0 Olympic Games victory over Colombia Saturday, Solo slammed former USA international Brandi Chastain, working as a commentator for NBC, for pointing out a perceived flaw in the play of Rachel Buehler.

Since she represented the USA as both a forward and a defender, and has been working in broadcasting for several years, Chastain would seem eminently qualified to make those observations that are part and parcel of being a trusted analyst. Chastain, though, is a member of the 1999 Women’s World Cup-championship team that Solo, who debuted for the national team the following year, seems haunted by.

After former coach Greg Ryan replaced Solo for a crucial 2007 Women’s World Cup semifinal against Brazil that the Americans lost, 4-0, with Scurry – another ’99 veteran and also the starting keeper on the 2004 Olympic gold-medal team – in her place, she pointedly remarked that past performances are no guarantee of success. True enough, but she did choose to make it personal.

“And the fact of the matter is it's not 2004 anymore,” said Solo to reporters back then. “It's not 2004. And it's 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past. It doesn't matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters, and that's what I think.”

Solo turned to Twitter this time, lashing out at Chastain with, among others, these comments: “Its 2 bad we cant have commentators who better represents the team&knows more about the game,” and this zinger at the past, “the game has changed from a decade ago.”

At a press conference Monday, Solo expanded on her tweets about Chastain. “It's not about what made me unhappy,” Solo said. “It's not about one game. I have my beliefs that the best commentators and the best analysts should be analyzing come Olympics, come World Cups, and it's only my opinion. You can take it or leave it, to be honest, so it's my opinion, and I think analysts and commentators should bring energy and excitement and passion for the game, and a lot of knowledge, and I think it's important to help build the game, and I don't think Brandi has that.”

Well, just as Chastain is free, if not obligated, to comment on and criticize the performances of the women’s team, so too is Solo within her rights to comment about a commentator’s comments. Many former U.S. players and coaches have turned to the broadcast booth, and if Solo believes a Cat Whitehill or Julie Foudy or Tony DiCicco, or Kyle Martino or Marcelo Balboa or Taylor Twellman, for that matter, is better qualified to analyze the U.S. play, she is certainly entitled to say so. But why those digs at the past?

Suspicion abounds that Solo is ramping up her persona to help sell a memoir that will be released Aug. 14, two days after the Closing Ceremony, yet she’s never been shy about shooting off zingers. Like many athletes, she probably believes she was kept in the shadows too long and deserved the starting job long before she got it. That’s a good subject for debate but hard to resolve either way.

Solo had a hiatus from the national team after the 2007 Women’s World Cup and regained her starting spot in time to claim an Olympic gold medal the following year. She’s been the unquestioned starter ever since despite a layoff due to shoulder problems, and at this Olympics has maybe only Japanese goalie Miho Fukumoto and Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl as worthy rivals. But her size (5-foot-9), quickness, and agility set her apart. She has the tools and confidence most women's keepers simply cannot match.

In her remarks about Scurry and Chastain, as well as snarky remarks last year about a lot of people wanting her booted off “Dancing With The Stars” after her first performance, she stood up for herself, or in the case of Buehler, a teammate. Too bad she didn’t consider the circumstances of two other former teammates who had the temerity, like her, to be themselves.



15 comments
  1. Michael C
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 2:47 a.m.
    Chastain may say what she wants - it's a free country. However, she is the latest in a long line of US soccer "analysts" (male AND female) chosen for on-field achievements rather than an ability to intelligently communicate information. Indeed, the sole reason Chastain is in a broadcast booth is because of that very past you believe is irrelevant. Rag on Solo all you want, but she's far from the only one on Twitter expressing their need to turn the sound off when Chastain is behind a mic.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 7:11 a.m.
    My verdict on Solo is wrong venue, stupid argument, right target. There are two issues here. The first, as Michael points out, is that the commentators ESPN/NBC etc. chooses tend to be on the tendentious side and not much fun to listen to. They are there because they were big names on the field in their former lives, and there is nothing wrong with that, provided they had some skill behind the microphone. Taylor Twellman, for example, was excellent during the Euro 2012 broadcasts, and Michael Ballack wasn't half bad. Unfortunately, they are the exceptions. The second issue is that Solo chose not to make this argument, instead focusing a public, personal attack on Chastain solely based on the very dubious notion that the game has changed so much that Chastain (and by extension everyone her age or older) doesn't know what she's talking about. And that is patently absurd. This is a mature game, and it hasn't changed so much in 12 years that it is beyond recognition. Any competent observer could easily keep up with the refinements and evolution of this game from '99 to now.

  1. Thomas Hosier
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 9:05 a.m.
    Certainly Chastain is an American Soccer Icon but quite frankly I agree with Hope Solo in that she is a "downer" as a commentator. Solo for sure is not one to just go along to get along .... kind of refreshing when players and coaches speak out about what is bugging them. Like the NBA players and coaches speak out about the refs ... even if they have to take some hefty fines for being publicly indiscreet.

  1. Tim Mccoy
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 9:16 a.m.
    I appreciate Solo's outspoken nature but she needs to comment on things that are within her realm of expertise. Broadcasters hire (and fire) on-air talent based upon ratings and/or performance. Broadcasters don't hire talent to 'promote' and 'grow' the game as Solo feels NBC should but to report and analyze. So consumed with legacy is she, I can only imagine what her reaction would be to an outstanding, young 'keeper competing for her current status as the top 'keeper in the women's game. It's entertaining for us but destructive for her. She comes off as petty and self-absorbed. Is Dr. Hartley around?

  1. Chuck Schutt
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 9:35 a.m.
    Seems Hope is a bit too self-focused. Confidence is one of many good tools a pofessional athlete uses. But too far leads to arrogance, and is not pretty, despite any physical characteristics that would say otherwise. She also lives only in the moment: "You can't live in the past. It doesn't matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters, and that's what I think.” “the game has changed from a decade ago.” In her youthful exhuberence she fails to recognize the test of time is what defines an athlete as great. A spectacular play, or game or even season may be fulfilling at the time. But at some point even Hope Solo's career will be a decade in the past. And what a shame to have those great moments clouded or even completely overshadowed by memories of caustic comments and petty attitudes.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 9:56 a.m.
    Michael touched upon it. I will finish. Chastain is mindbending awful. Negative, Provides no competent analysis. Homer too an extreme and always comparing everything to thè 99ers. She is John Harkes 2.0 Almost like she's trying to validate the past teams by ragging on the present. Just tell us what the tv and PBP can't convey. That's all. Foudy tends to relive her glory a bit too but she's at least a good analyst who provides insight. Chastain does nothing positive for thè broadcast. Hope is just being hope. Shes thè coaches problem. That's all. Thè media is focusing on thè wrong target.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
    I'd love to see good commentators who don't do as David says. Negative. Homer. The other team doesn't exist. I hate that. As I said earlier, Twellman was great during Euro 2012, but he was the exception. I'm sure you could find some more obscure WNT ex-player who has a knack for commentary. They don't need to be famous, just good and fun to listen to. And above all folks, this is supposed to be the beautiful game!!! Why not broadcast it as if it where? This is something the Spanish language announcers over at ESPN Deportes get that their English language counterparts don't. It's supposed to be fun! Those guys (ESPN Deportes) didn't spend time ragging on Spain for being boring. Instead they celebrated the skill and beauty of their game. And they brought that attitude to every game they broadcast. NBC, Fox, ESPN, you can all do better. Please try.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.
    Solo's talk of TV soccer commentary and its purpose being to bring energy to the game is typical smoke. Commentary is only so good as it is brief to the point and lets the game speak for itself. Unfortunately, this hardly ever happens as the tendency is to over-talk, over-analyze, and overstate how 'great' this or that was, when in fact the words 'great' and 'fantastic' are spewed constantly without merit.

  1. Mike Murray
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.
    A noisy tempest in a little WNT teapot. Solo gets to talk; she was half right and half wrong. Chastain gets to analyze; she's a little irritating but sometimes right. Can we let it go?

  1. ROBERT BOND
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.
    That goal Japan got, she stood there & watched the 2 DBs boot it back & forth in front of the goal till the Japanese player came up & creamed it point blank.

  1. Manuel Trejo-von Angst
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 8:15 p.m.
    Chastain's 'energy' or whatever else in the booth has little/nothing to do with Solo's critique. Solo's main point was that Chastain is incapable of identifying when a defender is playing poorly because the 'game has changed' since Chastain played. Wrong, Hope. Chastain is a boring commentator but her point was spot on. Buehler was playing shoddily at the time of the comment. Solo needs to stop worrying about TV commentators and worry more about how she should deal with sun glare so she doesn't give up 2 more cheap ones like she did against France. This is all about self promotion from Solo and it's pretty transparent and pretty unattractive.

  1. Sandra Mathieu
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at 8:38 p.m.
    I agree with Manuel. Let's see how Hope solo does when she gets difficult shots to handle. In the future she will be known for her mouth not what she did in goal.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: August 1, 2012 at 10 a.m.
    To have Brandi chastain commentate s the equivalent of having Alexi Lalas commentate, they are both Debbie downers! Solo is right, we need passion, charisma, and knowledge of the game, not a negative reinforcer.

  1. Bruce Mazurkewicz
    commented on: August 7, 2012 at 8:35 a.m.
    Solo is an idiot

  1. Kevin Sims
    commented on: August 13, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
    Solo must be praised for her consistency ... always a petulant, egocentric, narcissistic jerk ... a special soccer talent that must constantly be on the edge of igniting team disruption


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