January 26, 2015
By Michael lewis
HOPE FOR HOPE
Gulati sees circumstance where Solo won't be on World Cup team
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati admitted that he does imagine a circumstance in which goalkeeper Hope Solo won't be on the U.S. women's national team for this summer's Women's World Cup.
Solo was suspended for 30 days by the federation on Jan. 21 for making "a poor decision that resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates," U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said at the time.
Solo will be eligible for reinstatement to the team after the 30-day suspension, pending review and approval by U.S. Soccer and Ellis. Part of the stipulation for Solo to return to the team is for her to do certain things.
When asked whether he thought about a situation in which the 33-year-old keeper would not play in Canada, Gulati replied during a Monday afternoon conference call, "Sure. As I have said, as Jill has said, we have asked her to do a number of things and she's going to have to do some of those things and make progress in those areas. That's the most obvious area you're leading to. Obviously there's always injuries. Look, that's possible. We hope that's not the case. We hope she's making progress and joins the team. That's certainly the goal -- hers and ours."
Gulati said that the decision to suspend Solo came after several discussions between U.S. Soccer Executive Director and CEO Dan Flynn and Ellis.
"Thirty days seemed to be the appropriate suspension under our rules, given the circumstances," he said. "There are a number of things that Hope is being asked to do in that 30 days. We're not going to get into the specifics of that. We'll evaluate where things stand at the end of that period and make a decision going forward."
Solo reportedly has had some alcohol-related problems, though Gulati did not want to talk about whether that was part of her recent issues.
"Since we have health-related issues here, we're a little bit careful on how we get into parts of this," he said.
When asked whether Solo had a drinking problem, Gulati replied, "Neither one of us has denied or confirmed that."
"She has been given time to deal with some issues," he added. "We think in this period that she will start that process and we'll evaluate it. That's about all we're going to say on that."
Ellis felt the 30-day ban was the best way to go. She added that she did not want Solo to be a distraction as the Americans play in France on Feb. 8 and in England on Feb. 13 as they begin preparation for Canada 2015. Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher are the three goalkeepers who will be available to play in those friendlies.
"This situation warranted a consequence," Ellis said. "We thought it was reasonable. Obviously, from the perspective of two very very big games, this is important for us to be able to focus the players we have on these games and allow Hope some time to reflect on some things. I think as far as specifics ... we're not going to get into [it]. Hope and I had some very good conversations. I'm optimistic about moving forward."
Ellis said she felt the goals laid out for Solo to achieve during the month suspension were achievable.
"Without talking about the specifics, there are things we think that are important for her to continue with our program," she said. "So I think they are certainly achievable. Again, I really don't want to speculate to you guys what they are. but we think they're going to help the situation."