Hope Solo suspension explained by national team head coach Jill Ellis

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The suspension of Hope Solo (pictured) has finally been explained by United States women's national team head coach Jill Ellis. (Getty Images)
The suspension of Hope Solo (pictured) has finally been explained by United States women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis. (Getty Images)

Gather ’round, children. It’s time for chapter 458 of The Great Hope Solo Saga.

In case you live under a rock, or actually spent the summer playing outside, here’s what you’ve missed. The superstar goalkeeper was kicked off the United States women’s national team in the wake of the Olympics last month. She was suspended for half a year and her contract with the United States Soccer Federation was canceled for calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” for their defensive tactics as they knocked out the three-time defending champion Americans in the quarterfinals in Rio.

Solo was mad.

And then she blamed her ouster on her role in collective bargaining agreements and a federal gender discrimination lawsuit filed by her and four other players against U.S. Soccer.

All along, U.S. Soccer has maintained that the suspension of the 35-year-old came courtesy not of her latest comments, but the collective weight of her long rap sheet of incidents on national team duty and run-ins with the law.

Now, women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis, the eminently reasonable tactician who led the Americans to their first Women’s World Cup title in 16 years last summer, has chimed in.

“Over time there’s been off the field distractions for which the federation has taken action,” she said in a statement on U.S. Soccer’s website. “Each time an action has been taken there’s been made clear an expectation that this would be the last time such a step would be necessary.”

“Sadly,” the English-born Ellis continued, “how Hope handled her post-Olympic comments forced us to make a significant decision. It’s not simply a decision made about comments, it was based on the sum total of actions that have unfortunately shone a negative light on our program.”

Technically, Solo can still very much return to the national team. Her suspension will see her miss less than a handful of games, and largely irrelevant ones at that, considering that the next major tournament doesn’t arrive until the Women’s World Cup in 2019. And she can always be signed up to a new contract.

That said, she will turn 38 the summer that tournament comes around, old even by a goalkeeper’s standards. And while she had a standout game against France in Brazil, she also had an uncharacteristically blunder-filled one against Colombia, giving up two unnecessary goals and posing questions about whether the end of her prime is nigh.

Below her reaction to Solo’s suspension, Ellis dropped a strong hint that she’s ready to move on with Solo’s understudies Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris, who are 28 and 30, respectively.

“After the Olympics the plan was always to prepare for 2019 and that means investing in the other goalkeepers and getting them playing time,” Ellis said when asked about “the goalkeeper position moving forward.”

“That’s still the process and it’s the same for every position,” she added. “Everything right now is building toward 2019 and our future.”

That future, from the sound of it, isn’t likely to feature Solo in it.