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U.S. dismisses Solo from final Cup game

September 30, 2007|Philip Hersh | Special to The Times

SHANGHAI -- The Hope Solo saga took another stunning turn Saturday, when her World Cup teammates decided they did not want the goalkeeper with them for either today's third-place game with Norway or Saturday's practice.

The team banished Solo, who had started the first four games of the World Cup, because she reacted to being benched for Thursday's 4-0 semifinal loss to Brazil by criticizing not only the decision but the play of her replacement, veteran goalkeeper Briana Scurry.

"Her going public has affected the whole group. Having her with us is still a distraction," U.S. captain Kristine Lilly said of the reason for the decision.

Solo, 25, was the team's goalie of the future, but her career with the national team could be over unless she finds a way to regain her teammates' confidence. She apologized at a Saturday team meeting after using her MySpace site for a public apology that still implied criticism of Scurry.

"The forgiveness in our hearts is just going to have to come with time," said Abby Wambach, the team's leading scorer.

Attempts to reach Solo for comment Saturday were unsuccessful.

"I don't want to speak for Hope, but I think she understands she lost this team," Coach Greg Ryan said Saturday. "She knows that trust is hard to gain, easy to break and even more difficult to regain.

"I believe she is committed to the process, and it takes more than apology. It takes actions day by day, living right, being a good teammate."

Ryan reiterated his Friday statement that reconciliation is possible.

"That is a very slow process, but it is one we have to be open to," he said.

It took barely 30 seconds of an interview for Solo to get herself in this mess and take the heat off Ryan, whose decision to replace her as starting goalie had looked more wrongheaded with every passing minute.

Yet questions about Ryan's future remain. His $175,000-a-year contract expires at the end of 2007.

Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, said the team's semifinal loss had accelerated review of the coaching situation.

"At all events like this, we do a pretty quick analysis of what happened," Gulati said. "That analysis will happen even more quickly because there is a competition [the Olympics] in a year."

If the federation dumps Ryan, it could look to Tony DiCicco as a short-term solution. DiCicco, coach of the 1996 Olympic champions and 1999 World Cup winners, has committed to coaching the Boston team in the new women's pro league, but that does not begin until 2009.

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Philip Hersh covers Olympic sports for The Times and the Chicago Tribune.

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