MANCHESTER, England — Hope Solo met with the coach and captains of the U.S. women’s soccer team Sunday to discuss her latest outburst of candor, a Twitter rant that did no good for the image of the squad and distracted from preparations for the upcoming game against North Korea in the Olympic tournament.
Coach Pia Sundhage said Solo will not be disciplined for the series of tweets that criticized former U.S. player Brandi Chastain’s commentary during the NBC broadcast of the Americans’ 3-0 win over Colombia on Saturday.
“We had a conversation: If you look at the women’s national team, what do you want (people) to see? What do you want them to hear?” Sundhage told reporters at the team hotel. “And that’s where we do have a choice — as players, coaches, staff, the way we respond to certain things.”
Solo rattled off four tweets following Saturday’s game, upset over Chastain’s criticisms of the team’s defensive play.
“Its 2 bad we cant have commentators who better represents the team&knows more about the game,” tweeted Solo. She also told Chastain to “lay off commentating about defending” and goalkeeping “until you get more educated” and “the game has changed from a decade ago.”
Those are hardly the type of positive comments the naturally upbeat Sundhage likes to hear, especially in the middle of one of the sport’s biggest showcases.
“On the field, it’s OK to make a mistake. There’s no such thing as a perfect game,” Sundhage said. “And sometimes you make a mistake outside the field as well. Myself as well. I’ve regretted that I’ve said that or whatever, but at the end of the day if you have good teammates and recognize it and say something that we are proud of, then it is easier to prepare for the next game — because it’s all about the next game.”
The meeting with Solo took place after the team arrived in Manchester, where the Americans (2-0) will play the North Koreans on Tuesday in a game that will determine pairings for the quarterfinals. Co-captain Abby Wambach said the meeting lasted about five minutes.
The team said will Solo be available for comment Monday, following a walkthrough at Old Trafford. She did take to Twitter again on Sunday, however, to respond to a reporter’s tweet that she wouldn’t be disciplined.
“discipline? Ha! For what! Never even a topic! We talked about our team deserving the best!” she tweeted.
Chastain, one of the most accomplished players in U.S. team history, refused to be drawn into the fray.
“I’m here to do my job, which is to be an honest and objective journalist at the Olympics, nothing more than that,” said Chastain, who earned 192 caps from 1988-2004 and is best known for scoring the decisive penalty kick in the World Cup final in 1999.
Wambach said the meeting focused on the goal of maintaining a “bubble” around the team during the Olympics.
“We just wanted to get on the same page on the things that we are focused on,” Wambach said. “And the things that we’re going to be talking about, whether it be in the media or behind closed doors with your teammates. … We have to appreciate different people’s personalities and their opinions. However, we also want to create a bubble. We want to create some sort of symmetry in terms of what we’re doing here and why we’re here, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Wambach also noted that TV commentators have nothing to do with winning gold medals.
“At the end of the day, none of it matters,” Wambach said. “Because what really does matter is the results.”
Sundhage said she didn’t tell Solo to stop tweeting or to tone it down.
“I don’t punish people,” Sundhage said. “And I don’t know what’s right and wrong.”
Five years ago, Solo expressed an opinion that made her the recipient of the starkest punishment ever dealt to a U.S. women’s national team player. She was essentially kicked off the squad at the 2007 World Cup after she criticized then-coach Greg Ryan for benching her for the semifinals.
She made her way back onto the team to become arguably the best goalkeeper in team history, anchoring the gold-medal run at the 2008 Olympics and winning the golden glove award for top goalie at last year’s World Cup in Germany.
Now she’s a media superstar, highlighted by her appearance on “Dancing With the Stars” last fall, and she hasn’t stopped making waves. Three weeks ago, she had what is believed to be the first positive drug test in the history of the program, receiving a warning over the banned substance Canrenone. She said it resulted from a premenstrual medication prescribed by her doctor.
Solo was also one of several athletes quoted extensively in an ESPN The Magazine story about sex in the athletes village during the Beijing Olympics and has also been promoting her book “A Memoir of Hope,” scheduled for release two days after the London Games.
Nevertheless, Sundhage said she’s not concerned about Solo’s focus.
“Hope is different,” Sundhage said. “What I see is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. If you look back, she’s been dancing with the stars, she’d been in a lot of media, she’s done this and that, and you would think, ‘Well, will she ever come back to the game and will this be a distraction?’ If you look at the way she played the first two games, I would say no. She’s ready. She prepared. She wants to win, and she know what she needs to do.”