BRASILIA, Brazil, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Hope Solo might not be solo in the way she felt after the United States lost its quarterfinal matchup Friday to Sweden, but she is the only one who offered a harsh sound bite.
Now its biting back.
After the match, Solo told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl that she thought Sweden was “cowards.”
“I thought that we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart,” Solo told Wahl. “We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team.”
“And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The better team did not win today. I strongly believe that. I think you saw American heart. You saw us give everything we had today.”
The USWNT lost the match in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation at the Summer Games. It will be the first major tournament the USWNT has played without making the semifinal.
Former USWNT teammate and ESPN analyst, Julie Foudy responded to Solo’s slight.
“I shook my head,” Foudy said on ESPN. “I thought, why is that necessary. There’s a long history and tradition with our national team of respecting others when you lose, so I don’t agree with it at all. I think it’s pretty obvious that Sweden took a tactic that most outmatched teams take in soccer, it’s been happening for centuries in fact.”
“They played a lower defensive line, I wouldn’t even call it a bunker because they did come out, it wasn’t like they bunkered the entire game. To call them cowards 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.”
Fox Sports and Big Ten Network analyst Danielle Stanton, another former Solo teammate, said Solo needs to learn from the loss.
“It’s ridiculous,” Slaton said on NBC. “It’s not cowardice, it’s discipline. They had a game plan and they stuck to it. I get that she’s frustrated, I get that that’s maybe not the result she wanted, but I disagree with her fully, wholeheartedly. Credit goes to Sweden, and quite frankly, Hope Solo needs to learn how to be a gracious loser.”
Sweden’s coach and former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage embraced the “coward” label due to the result of the game.
“According to Hope Solo, I think you should define what is a good team,” Sundhage told the Los Angeles Times. “Well, usually – especially with the Americans – a good team is when they’re winning.”
“And they’re winning all the time. That’s the best team in the world. But for once they didn’t go the whole way through. We won the game. They played more attacking football than we did. We defend very well. And the fact that…it went to penalty kicks says something about our defending. U.S. played better in the attack, we played better in the defense. And at the end of the day we won the game and that’s what all counts.”
“It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”
Sundhage coached the USWNT from 2008 to 2012. Her USWNT squads won two Olympic gold medals and was second at the World Cup.