Hope Solo, the star goalkeeper of the United States women’s national team, has been suspended for 30 days because of an "incident" during the team’s ongoing training camp in Southern California, U.S. Soccer announced. The suspension is effective immediately.
According to TMZ Sports, Solo, 33, was in a car with her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, when they were pulled over around 2 a.m. on Monday. Stevens was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Solo was also heavily inebriated, according to the report.
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The incident occurred just a week after the dismissal of Solo’s domestic violence case in which she had been charged with two counts of assault for a June altercation with her half-sister and nephew.
"During our current National Team camp, Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates," U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said in a statement. "We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team."
Solo responded on Facebook. "I accept and respect the Federation’s decision, and more importantly, I apologize for disappointing my teammates, coaches and the Federation who have always supported me," she wrote. "I think it’s best for me to take a break, decompress from the stress of the last several months, and come back mentally and physically ready to positively contribute to the team."
Once again, the incident is exceedingly poorly timed, with the USA getting ready for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada and Solo only just getting out of her latest run-in with the law. She and Stevens had also been involved in a domestic violence case on the eve of their 2012 wedding that was dismissed for a lack of evidence.
Solo is inarguably a difference maker on the field and badly needed if the Americans are to finally end their 16-year World Cup drought. There is no way to replace her without suffering a significant talent drop-off at the goalkeeper position.
Plainly, U.S. Soccer had little choice but to suspend her for this latest incident, since it had happened while Solo was with the team (which pays its members a full-time salary). The federation had stood by Solo and allowed her to keep playing while her assault charges awaited trial, allowing the justice system to run its course – even celebrating her record-setting 72nd shutout with the national team and awarding her the captain’s armband the following game. Her case was dismissed when her accusers failed on several occasions to be interviewed by her lawyer.
That incident had happened while she was away from the team. U.S. Soccer didn’t have all the information then; it did this time around. So for the sake of its integrity, the federation had to send Solo home. But in Ellis’s build-up to the World Cup, this is a major inconvenience, with testing friendlies in France and England coming up – both of which Solo will miss.
There are no guarantees that Solo will be back at all. Ellis and the federation might decide the goalie is more trouble than she’s worth and too much of a distraction as the team heads into the high-pressure environment of a World Cup just across its own border. After her assault case, Solo was on thin ice, and she just dunked right through it.
Solo, for her part, is putting a lot at stake by failing to suppress her undeniable talent for finding trouble. At her age, this could well be her last World Cup. And she continues to tarnish a well-established mainstream brand – she has a varied portfolio of endorsements and has appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" and in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue – potentially leaving huge amounts of money on the table.
With just 138 days left before the USA kicks off its World Cup, it might have to go looking for a new goalkeeper.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.