Lets face it: U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Greg Ryan fucked up. Multiple times.
He took Hope Solo, coming off of three consecutive shutouts, and replaced her with 36 year-old Brianna Scurry against a fast and agile Brazilian team and the end result was the US team getting their ass handed to them. And when Solo pointed out what everyone was thinking he canned her.
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Greg Ryan, team captain Kristine Lilly and forward Abby Wambach confirmed Saturday in a press conference in Shanghai, China, that goalkeeper Hope Solo would not be a part of the team’s preparation in advance of the USA’s third-place match with Norway on Sunday.
Ryan made the decision in consultation with his team, sighting the disruption caused by Solo’s comments to the press following a loss to Brazil in the tournament semifinals on Thursday evening in Hangzhou.
“We did not have Hope attend practice today,” said Ryan to a press gathering in the team hotel. “She will not be attending the game tomorrow (Sunday). We have moved forward with 20 players who have stood by each other, who have battled for each other, and when the hard times came â€“ and the Brazil game was a hard time â€“ they stood strong. Now it is the 20 that have stuck together that will be ready to go out and compete against Norway. Thatâ€™s our whole focus, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to do.”
The team’s leadership echoed those comments, making a point to highlight how this team has stuck together across their 22-year history.
While I don’t agree with Solo throwing Scurry under the bus, I think even less of the team, whose performance in the tournament can best be described as underwhelming (1-0 against Nigeria?…puh-leeze) doing the same to Solo. And they’re just giving cover to Ryan who may very well be the Marty Schottenheimer of soccer. He puts Scurry in because of her reaction time..and she gets beaten on two shots that require good reactions. A communication breakdown between the defenders and the substitute keeper (who hadn’t been playing in the tournament) in all likelihood results in an own goal. And, with his team down 2-0 in the second half he pulls forward Heather O’Reilly out of the game and subs in… a defender.
So how did that work out for you Greg?
So it was that, already down two goals in the second half, Ryan substituted defender Tina Ellertson for forward Heather O’Reilly.
“We brought Tina on to defend Marta, and I thought she did a very good job,” Ryan said. “And we tried to push Christie Rampone up the field, because Christie is very good at not only defending but attacking going the other way.”
Instead of adding an offensive threat like Natasha Kai or Aly Wagner to try to force Brazil to play in its own end, Ryan made a defensive move to bandage a wound already inflicted.
In some ways, it was a fitting gesture for a national program at an uncertain crossroads.
With the game long since decided, Marta broke in on goal in the 79th minute and, with her back to goal, flipped the ball up in the air with the back of her foot. As the crowd started its collective inhale, she spun around Ellertson, corralled the ball, deked Cat Whitehill out of the way and fired home her second goal to push the score to 4-0.
On second thought, I was wrong about Ryan. he’s not the Marty Schottenheimer of soccer. he’s the Grady Little.