Coach Ryan Sidelines Solo

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 29, 2007; 3:30 AM

SHANGHAI, Sept. 29 -- Goalkeeper Hope Solo, whose critical comments Thursday had begun to overshadow the U.S. soccer team's loss to Brazil in the Women's World Cup, was not allowed to practice with the squad Saturday and will not be in uniform for the third-place match against Norway on Sunday.

"Obviously, this has been a distraction to the team," Coach Greg Ryan said. "We have moved forward with 20 players who have stood by each other ... The decision is completely based on helping the team just focus on being on a team and going out and playing great against Norway."

Ryan announced his decision after a team meeting in which Solo apologized to her teammates. He said he weighed input from the veteran players.

"Hope is a young person, she's made a mistake and she knows that," Ryan said. "You just want to see her grow from this ... I think she understands she lost this team, and this team has to play for each other and they have to care for each other.

"She knows that trust is hard to gain, easy to break and even more difficult to regain, but I believe she is committed to the process and it takes more than an apology; it takes actions, day by day, living right, being a good teammate."

Through a team spokesman, Solo said she did not want to be interviewed. However, in an entry on her MySpace page, which U.S. Soccer Federation officials said was authentic, Solo wrote:

"I am not proud or happy the way things have come out. Although I stand strong in everything I said, the true disheartening moment for me was realizing it could look as though I was taking a direct shot at my own teammate. I would never throw such a low blow. Never. Many of this goes way beyond anyone's understanding, and is simply hard to justify. In my eyes there is no justification to put down a teammate. That is not what I was doing."

Solo, 26, was benched before the 4-0 loss to Brazil after starting the first four matches. She was replaced by veteran Briana Scurry. Ryan cited tactical reasons. After the game, Solo said it was the wrong decision and that she would have prevented the first two goals. She also said that Ryan chose to look in the past instead of the future when making the decision.

Scurry, 36, will start against Norway and be backed up by Nicole Barnhart, Ryan said. Team officials said Solo will not be at the stadium.

"We do what is best for the team, and what is best for the team is the 20 of us right now," team captain Kristine Lilly said. "With the circumstances that happened and her going public has affected the whole group, and having her with us is still a distraction."

Added forward Abby Wambach: "It just goes to show you have to be professional all the time and you have to watch what you say. We, as a team, want to look as quickly as possible forward to Norway because this tournament isn't over. That's the most unfortunate part about it ... I am so very proud of the way how we've handled this because [it was] not easy. This is uncharted territory for us."

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