There was nothing shameful about how the USA played in Brasilia, just how goalkeeper Hope Solo reacted when the chips were down.
Whatever you think of Sweden's tactics, former national team star Julie Foudy, now an ESPN reporter and analysis, said, to call the Swedes cowards, as Solo did, "for playing a tactically smart game is ridiculous and classless, and it really doesn’t represent the house that we built with the U.S. team.”
USA Today's Nancy Armour termed Solo an "embarrassment to both her team and her country." It didn't matter how the USA lost. "They could have played a woman or two down," Armour added, "bloodied and bruised and it would not excuse Solo acting like a poor loser and taking potshots at an opponent."
Even before she arrived in Brazil, Solo's Olympic year was not going well. There was nothing wrong with her questioning whether if was safe for her to Brazil because of the outbreak of the Zika virus. She ended up going while others like golf stars Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy pulled out, citing fears about the Zika virus.
Solo was wrong for making what seemed to be a joke of the fears, tweeting a pair of photos with the hashtag #zikaproof, one of her covered in funny-looking anti-mosquito gear, the other of mosquito repellent spread all over a bed, and she became enemy No. 1 of Brazilian fans who booed her everywhere she went.
Solo said she was not affected by the boos. She had a great game against France, helping the USA escape with a 1-0 win in a match it was dominated, but she had a horrible game against upstart Colombia, making Catalina Usme an overnight star when she allowed the Cafetera to beat her twice on free kicks in their 2-2 tie.
You could argue whether Solo should have done better on the Swedish goal scored by 20-year-old Stina Blackstenius. But just as shameful as Solo's reaction to the USA's exit was was how she acted when the USA was down to its last chance, Lisa Dahlkvist's penalty kick following Christen Press's miss with shootout tied 3-3.
I've seen hundreds and hundreds of penalty kicks and witnessed goalkeepers try to ice shooters -- Solo did it to German Celia Sasic in the turning point of the USA's semifinal victory at the 2015 Women's World Cup -- but I've never seen any keeper pull the stunt Solo did, in Round of 5 a shootout no less. As Dahlkvist stepped up for the final kick, Solo decided she needed new gloves and walked away to change them.
It wasn't hard for neutrals to cheer when Dahlkvist fired her penalty kick into the net for the winning goal.
As Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post asked, "Who is the real coward here?"