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Frank Isola: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has proven to be a true team player

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Frank Isola: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has proven to be a true team player
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Frank Isola: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has proven to be a true team player

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – It is always hard to tell if Hope Solo is crazy like a fox or just a fox that can’t stay out of trouble.

She is doing something right, of course, because she has unique skill of keeping herself in the news and soccer balls out of the net. The United States goalkeeper is generally regarded as the best in the world. After conceding two early goals to France at the Olympics, Solo and the U.S. women have gone 255 minutes without giving up a goal.

So it’s not as if Solo’s appearances on “Dancing with The Stars” or her Twitter rants impact her day job. She’s still a dominant force in goal.

Solo has already made her mark at London 2012 by lashing out, via Twitter, at NBC analyst Brandi Chastain, who had made a few minor critical comments about central defender Rachel Buehler following the American’s 3-0 victory over Colombia. Chastain is a former U.S. defender who famously took off her jersey top after scoring the winning penalty kick at the World Cup in 1999. In 100 years, people will mistakenly say that Chastain invented the sports bra.

Solo and Chastain are former teammates and clearly not the best of friends since Solo followed up Chastain’s comments about the defense by posting a Tweet that Chastain needed to educate herself about the game because it has changed a lot over the last 10 years.

In the Twitter world, that’s called a kill shot because Solo not only wiped out Chastain but also took a little dig at pioneers like Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy. The worst kept secret is that members of the current group are tired of hearing about the ladies of the 90s and early 2000s. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t think Kobe Bryant and LeBron James feel the same way about the 1992 Dream Team?

Solo created one of those controversies which in essence isn’t really a controversy. Chastain, who is paid for her opinion, didn’t go overboard in her criticism of Buehler. And I know that Foudy called Solo’s tweet “sad” but I thought of it as a good thing. Solo was sticking up for a teammate. Was it transparent? Maybe. Did she do it to draw attention to herself? You can answer that one.

The comment made a lot of folks in the soccer community and the women’s sports movement a little uncomfortable. It was if they were saying, “now girls, let’s all behave and get along.” And that’s ridiculous. If I’m Buehler, I’d like the fact that Solo is my last line of defense and has my back as well. Moments like that can galvanize a team.

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And don’t think for one minute that this doesn’t go back to the 2007 World Cup when Solo was banished from the team after the Americans lost in the semifinals to Brazil. Solo was the regular goalkeeper but on a hunch former head coach Greg Ryan started Briana Scurry, who was in net at the 1999 World Cup. Some hunch. Scurry had an awful night as Brazil trounced the U.S. 4-0.

Afterwards, Solo publicly criticized the decision. Yes, she should have used better judgment and yes she happened to be right. What happened next was disgraceful. The team voted to banish Solo for the third-place match. She couldn’t eat with the team or fly home on the same charter. At that moment, Solo needed a teammate to defend her the way Solo stood up for Buehler.

That’s what being a team is about.
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