Hope Solo calls late-night team van joyride "a horrible choice" in first interview since suspension

Hope Solo spoke exclusively with Robin Roberts of "Good Morning America" about her off-the-field problems.

United States women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo, the enfant terrible of American soccer, has spoken out for the first time since her 30-day suspension from the program after her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, was arrested for DUI while driving a team van with Solo back in January.

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In a pre-taped interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" that aired on Wednesday morning, the 33-year-old goalkeeper, who was reinstated to the team and is expected to play in goal at this summer's Women's World Cup, was contrite.

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"Clearly, I wasn't thinking," Solo told Robin Roberts. "It was a horrible choice. I think I just wasn't in a good place, emotionally, to even make good decisions."

The incident occurred just a week after the domestic violence charges brought against Solo by her half-sister and nephew, for which she faced possible prison time, were dismissed when the latter two refused to be interviewed by Solo's lawyers. It wasn't her first brush with domestic violence, as on the eve of her wedding to Stevens in 2012, the couple had gotten into an altercation with each other, although she refused to press charges against him.

"It's not an excuse, but it was stupid," a teary-eyed Solo said. "I should have called a taxi."

Solo, who missed national team friendlies against England and France during her suspension, didn't inform the federation of the episode, leaving U.S. Soccer officials to find out about it through the media. They made it clear to Solo that she would have to meet several conditions to rejoin and remain on the team, which she seems to have complied with. What they are, exactly, is unclear, but it appears to involve some form of counseling.

"I'm working through those emotions," she said. "I was filled with anger. I'm finally able to sit down and talk to somebody about what I've been going through, very traumatic events over the last year. Just being able to talk to somebody has been really beneficial to me. I can cry it out. I can try to understand it. It's been healthy for me to talk it out and to deal with my emotions instead of tucking them away.

While often combative in interviews, Solo pleaded for sympathy. "I want people to realize I'm just human," she said. "I'm just human and I make mistakes. I want people to be able to forgive me if they're willing to do so. I just want to be the best athlete I can be; the best person I can be and I know I have a lot of room for improvement."

Yet she also claimed that she was the victim, rather than the aggressor, in the June incident with her family. And that her nephew, who she claims is 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds, struck her and left her severely concussed.

She went on to defend U.S. Soccer's decision to let the legal process play out and allow her to remain with the team, claiming her "fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty."

U.S. Soccer was criticized for that decision. And for standing by her, the federation was ultimately rewarded with this latest incident. But there's an inconvenient and unfortunate subtext to the continued Solo episodes: if the USA hopes to finally end its 16-year World Cup title drought next summer, it needs Solo, who is the best goalkeeper in the program by some distance.

Even so, if U.S. Soccer wants to retain credibility, it shouldn't tolerate any further transgressions by Solo, who really seems to be on her last chance now.

Defender Kelley O'Hara, who spoke with Solo during the suspension, said it's "great to have her back."

"She kind of completes our team," O'Hara told Yahoo Sports last Sunday at the Daytona 500, where O'Hara, Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone took part in the prerace festivities. "It's not the same without her there and she brings so much experience and also leadership within the back and just the team in general."

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.