Hope Solo and Speaking Truth to Idiots

Based on my reading, U.S. Women’s ‘keeper Hope Solo’s post-game outburst draws only the rare condemnation and that’s mainly in the comments. It seems all rightthinking people understand that Solo got the shaft, that U.S. coach Greg Ryan is a second-order dolt (scroll down) and a first-order tool, and that a very petty cabal could very well exist within the U.S. team (do look at the post under the phrase “very petty cabal”; the image Who Ate All the Cupcakes chose to make the point is priceless). Talk of boycotting the team till Ryan is gone crops up here and there and, as a Portland, Oregon resident, I have an opportunity close at hand for expressing any outrage I feel in the form of an October 17 friendly between the U.S. and Mexico. Thoughts for a quick, punchy banner to display are welcome (though they’re also likely to go entirely unused).

I have to admit that, after listening to Solo’s comments, I didn’t expect things to get as ugly as they have; the words themselves seemed fair, if a little discourteous. But I’d go so far as calling myself appalled by what her teammates did in particular. Reading accounts that Solo was actually shunned by her teammates lops off at the knees any respect I had for several of these women (Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, if a couple lines of chatter can be believed). That cliques being formed and friends defended seems to have trumped a decent regard for objective reality dredges up all my ugly biases against all the narcs, toadies, and yes-persons that populate the planet and cheapen our collective lives. Let’s just say loyalty is a virtue qualified heavily by to whom or what one is loyal.

I fully expected the reaction from above, however, which starts with Ryan and works its way up to the pinnacle of company-person assholeism. This reaction follows the same logic Major League Soccer (MLS) applies when, say, coaches and players rip a referee for a call so bad it leaves the blind rolling in the aisles. Hell, the impulse behind all this shows up in everything from government to the biggest of Big Business: don’t bad-mouth the virtuous policies and pronouncements of The Company. The downside of pushing this line internally, and enforcing it on “the merry workers” by means of fines, doesn’t stop at simple cowardice; it amounts to taking a rasp to The Company’s credibility. Just ask the Bush administration about how doling out Happy Talk has helped them keep the confidence of the country.

As for the particulars of what Solo said, there’s just nothing there to fear but fear itself. As with MLS and the Fiesta del Dodgy Reffing, the working assumption seems to be that so long as Solo doesn’t point it out, no one will notice that Brianna Scurry is past it or that Ryan is a lousy coach. But we all saw it and a lot of people pointed it out well before Solo uttered a word: the cat is out of the bag and marking all over the rug.
In the end, I actually admire Solo for speaking up and speaking about reality. It Scurry’s feeling got hurt, that’s regrettable, but I don’t know how she talks about a hard reality without someone taking a hit. The upside to this entire episode comes with knowing that “all right-thinking” people know the score and that these are the people who buy tickets to Women’s National Team matches. The downside: I’m reading in a fair amount of the copy that Ryan might stick around for the Olympics, a sign that, if true, amounts to emperor acknowledging the fact he’s buck-naked. That’s their prerogative, I suppose, but if they think people want to watch them parade their portly asses around the town, I think they’re mistaken.

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Today’s Best: The Loss, the Hot Seat Under Ryan, and Why I’m Happy

As we all know by now, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) crashed out of the 2007 Women’s World Cup in a manner reminiscent of a car packed with C-4 going into triple roll-over. I only know what the few reports I read told me, so I can’t analyze the game or speak to factors in the loss…beyond acknowledging that the 4-0 score-line suggests several factors as opposed to one.

But one of those factors will, no doubt, get plenty of attention in the wake of the loss: USWNT coach Greg Ryan.  The question already being batted around is whether Ryan should keep his job.  Clemente Lisi, writing on USSoccerplayers.com, serves up an emphatic no – for reasons that don’t begin and end with the Solo/Scurry controversy.

All the same, I do have an opinion on the loss: it’s a good thing.

As much as I like the U.S. winning, I like my sports competitive a little more. Parity among women’s national teams, something that seems to be growing at a happy pace, makes for a more interesting Women’s World Cup. I’d go so far as to say that I feel like I missed out. While there’s something to be said in favor of great teams – after all, this is Wigan beating Manchester United means something – the more fundamental truth is there’s not much point in watching a sports if you know what’s going to happen.

Down 3-0 and things look done…

70 minutes in – Hope Solo not in net, Boxx ejected, no momentum, and Bri Scurry not the keeper Ryan expected when he chose her over Solo to man the nets against Brazil in the WWC Semifinal match-up. Hell of a way to go out and you got to almost jump on board and agree with the Brazilian coach Marcellus who said, “This is NOT a time to make a change” when asked about the Scurry for Solo switch.

One question:

WHY F*** WITH WHAT WORKS IN THE PRESENT? – not this 14-0 bullshit against Brazil in the past. Why put a cold goalkeeper in net…period? Somebody enlighten me – that decision coupled with Boxx’s bogus ejection. I don’t care how the USWNT players played it off, but that kind of personnel decision makes or breaks a squad. Please – goalkeepers, coaches, enlighten me…cause I have a hard time thinking that Ryan’s choice cost the USA the World Cup.