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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

Sept. 29, 2007
THE U.S. IS HOPE-LESS
Ryan: Solo won't be with team vs. Norway

By Michael Lewis
BigAppleSoccer.com Editor

Goalkeeper Hope Solo won't be with the U.S. team for its third-place match against Norway Sunday.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo won't be with the U.S. team for its third-place match against Norway Sunday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Shanghai, China -- The U.S. is not going Solo in its third-place game in the Women's World Cup Sunday.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo's time in the competition is over.

Solo will not suit up with the U.S. Women's National Team for its third-place match against Norway Sunday night, Greg Ryan announced during a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Solo, who did not attend practice Saturday, won't be at the stadium for the game, U.S. Soccer officials said.

Solo criticized Ryan on ESPN after she was replaced by Briana Scurry in the lineup for the 4-0 loss to Brazil in Hangzhou Thursday night. Her comments had taken on a life of its own, overshadowing the crushing defeat and the preparation for its third-place encounter (ESPN2, 4:55 a.m.).

Scurry will start the match, Ryan said. Nicole Barnhart, who started the tournament as the No. 3 keeper, will be Scurry's understudy.

Ryan did not call it a suspension. He said he got input from the leaders, who in turn got feedback from the rest of the team.

"We have moved forward with 20 players who have stood by each other, who have battled for each other," Ryan said. "And when the hard times came, and the Brazil game was a hard time, they stood strong. Now its the 20 who have stuck together will be ready and compete against Norway."

Added Ryan: "The decision is completely based on helping the team just focus on being a team, going great against Norway. That's what we've always been about. You have to protect that. If you let that go now, you let it go forever.

"I've got to put the best interests of the team first."

Ryan hopes that the 25-year-old Solo will learn from this incident.

"Hope is a young person," he said. "She's made a mistake and she knows that. Believe me, I've made tons of mistakes in my life, bigger than Hope's. You just want to see her grow from this.

"Obviously, she's disappointed. I think she understands that she lost the team. This team has got to play for each other and care about each other. That's the fantastic quality about many in women's sports. It's very hard for Hope right now. She knows that trust is hard to gain, easy to break and even more difficult to gain."

"It takes more than an apology. It takes actions, day-by-day, living right in a good team."

Saying that it was not her intent to criticize a teammate, Solo apologized on her MySpace website page.

I am not proud or happy the way things have come out," she wrote on the page. "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.

For the team, the Solo situation is in the past.

Solo, 25, met with the team Saturday and apologized.

"We decided as a team," captain and midfielder Kristine Lilly said. "What we do as a group is what's best for the team and what's best for the team is the 20 of us right now. The circumstance of what happened and her going public had affected the whole group. Having her with us is still a distraction."

For the team, the Solo situation is in the past.

"We deal with it as a team and then we move on," Lilly said. "For us, right now, the bigger deal is the game tomorrow. This is our chance to get back onto the field and show our country and our fans on how we can play soccer."

Striker Abby Wambach, one of the team leaders, agreed.

"It is just an unfortunate circumstance," she said. "It just goes to show, you have to be professional all the time and watch what you say, no matter who you are around or where you are. We, as a team, we want to look as quickly as possible forward to Norway.

"Our main focus is that we learn something from this because this something that is uncharted territory for us."

Ryan said he was impressed and proud with the way the team handled the problem.

"It's your loses in life, your defeats, that reveal your character," he said. "I'm so impressed with our players and their character. They've come together. This has been very hard for them because they care deeply for each other. They have come together and backed each other and supported each other in the great tradition of the Women's National Team since its inception. Their unity is a quality that defines this group. It's the core of their being."
   
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