Hope Solo was at her best in last week’s women’s soccer gold medal match, diving, leaping and lunging to make critical saves that helped the United States edge Japan.
That inspiring performance helped overshadow her Twitter feud with former national team player and current NBC broadcaster Brandi Chastain earlier in the tournament. But now, only days after helping her team claim gold, Solo is once again embroiled in controversy.
In her new book, “Solo: A Memoir of Hope,” the goalkeeper alleges that former national team coach Greg Ryan shoved her in a meeting during the 2007 World Cup.
On Tuesday, Ryan vehemently refuted the claim.
“This allegation is completely false,” Ryan said in a statement. “I did not shove or push Hope as I’ve been accused in her book. I would have been terminated immediately by USA Soccer had this allegation been true. I have openly discussed the contents of the meeting and this is the first time that this accusation has been brought to light.”
Solo did not play in the team’s semifinal loss to Brazil that year — a 4-0 blowout in which veteran goalkeeper Briana Scurry struggled. After the game, Solo told reporters she would have given the U.S. a better chance to win the game in an interview that ultimately resulted in her suspension from the team.
“[Starting Scurry] was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that,” Solo said at the time. “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. The fact of the matter is, it’s not 2004 anymore. It’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. You can’t live by big names, you can’t live in the past. It doesn’t matter what someone did in an Olympic gold medal game three years ago. Now is what matters, and that’s what I think.”
In her book, Solo writes that while the interview was largely viewed as an attack on Scurry, it was intended to be directed at Ryan. (Read an excerpt on ESPNW here.)
“Hope was disappointed that I benched her for the semifinals, but it was the right move for the team,” Ryan said in his statement Tuesday. “It was discussed with team leaders, and they stood by my decision.”
Ryan has coached the Michigan women’s soccer team since he left the national team in 2007.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday, the 31-year-old Solo said she may not return for the 2016 Games in Brazil.
“I’m just happy,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m going to play in another Olympics. I don’t know if I can make it another four years. This could be it.”