Anyone who saw the USA’s 3-1 win against Australia at the Women’s World Cup on Monday saw the qualities that Hope Solo brings to Jill Ellis’ team. In a poor first half for the U.S. women, the 33-year-old goalkeeper made three world-class saves to deny the punchy Aussies in a game that might have turned out very differently had it not been for her.
By many accounts, Solo is the best female goalkeeper in the world, which makes her one of if not the most recognizable players in the USA squad alongside Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. Her quality and her confidence in her abilities have never been an issue. Her off-field behavior, on the other hand, is a different story.
By now, just about anyone who is familiar with the U.S. women knows that Solo has been involved in a domestic violence lawsuit. About a year ago, Solo was arrested following a dispute that turned violent at the house of her half-sister, Teresa Obert. While Solo alleges that she was the victim of violence on the part of her 17-year-old nephew, Obert’s son whose name has not been disclosed, Obert and her son tell a very different story.
In February, Solo appeared on the TV show “Good Morning America” to tell her version of what happened. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Outside The Lines, in a lengthy description of the events, attempts to tell the story from Obert and her son’s point of view, while also adding in the details captured from the police report.
To be sure, it sounds really bad. Even if Solo was not, as she claims, the aggressor in the situation, she was certainly involved in what amounts to a family tragedy and worse, a crime.
Of course, both Obert and her son say that Solo is lying. In the report, they claim that she was drunk and belligerent, delivering blows to the head of both her half-sister and nephew.
Due to “procedural grounds,” Solo’s case was thrown out earlier this year by Judge Michael Lambo in Kirkland, Washington, Municipal Court. But, in a rare move that required higher approval, the prosecutors appealed to the Superior Court of Washington, which will now hear the case in September after the prosecution files its argument next month and the defense responds a month later.
Meanwhile, following the publication of Obert’s side of the story by ESPN this week, pundits across the country are up in arms about the (non) role that U.S. Soccer has played in all of this.
In January, before the case was thrown out, the USSF suspended Solo for 30 days. The Seattle Reign, her club team, forced her to sit out one game following her arrest.
Given the harsh allegations directed at Solo, why did the USA No. 1 only get what amounts to a slap on the wrist?
ESPN pundit Keith Olbermann, for one, claims that if Solo was a player in the National Football League, she would have already been suspended by the league until further notice. Instead, she suited up for her country on Monday night and played a pivotal role in securing three points. Not only that, Olbermann says that USSF President Sunil Gulati and USA coach Jill Ellis should all be fired for letting her continue to play.
To be sure, the claims that Obert and her son are both making about Solo are serious -- in fact, they’re almost scary. But, as the ESPN report points out, the Kirkland Municipal court threw out the case partially because Obert and her son were uncooperative.
Now, Off The Post is certainly not a lawyer, but after reading the lengthy ESPN report, it sounds as though this whole case has a big credibility problem. Is Solo lying or are her relatives lying? Given that everyone is pointing fingers at each other and there are no other witnesses other than police reports describing some drunken verbal abuse on the part of Solo, it’s a tough question, but it’s also one for the courts to sort out, not U.S. Soccer. OTP would argue that given the overall lack of clarity here, U.S. Soccer has not necessarily acted irresponsibly in suspending its judgment on the case.
Sure, Solo is an extremely valuable member of the U.S. women’s team, but she’s not so valuable that the USSF needs to keep her at any cost. As horrible as the things described by her family members are, she is, after all, innocent until proven guilty.