In one of the worst showings in team history, the U.S. women were knocked out of
the Olympics in the round of 8 on Friday (Aug. 12), losing to Sweden on penalty kicks.
It’s the first time the team didn’t make it to the gold medal game since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996.
Then, to make matters worse, Hope Solo made a jackass of herself by mouthing off after the game, calling the Swedish players “a bunch of cowards” because they played from a defensive position for most of the game. Never mind that that’s a sensible, completely predictable strategy for any team facing an opponent that’s more talented offensively.
This was her full statement, according to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated:
It may take the U.S. women a long while to recover from this one.
Here are five oddities, curiosities, or (possibly) interesting facts about Team USA’s meltdown on the world stage:
There’s a history of ill will between Hope Solo and Pia Sundhage, her former coach who is now in charge of the women’s team in her native Sweden.
The timing was no coincidence. Solo had intended to have her book on the shelves before the start of the 2012 Games. She revealed in an epilogue that Sundhage, then the American coach, threatened to kick her off the Olympic team if she didn’t delay publication until after the Games.
Sundhage wanted no part of the publicity that she knew the memoir would engender.
“This will have a negative effect on the team,” Solo quoted her coach as saying.
“You’re putting me in a position where you’re ruining our journey to the Olympics. They’ll take a quote out of the book from 2007 and ask me what I think about it.”
Solo wrote that Sundhage’s demand was unfair. But if the keeper wanted to compete in the Olympics, she had no choice but to capitulate.
Then in 2015, just as the Women’s World Cup was getting under way, The New York Times published an interview with Sundhage, who by then had moved on to the Swedish team.
Sundhage had unkind words for a couple of the American players, including Solo.
She called the keeper one of the most challenging players she’d ever coached, “especially when it comes to trouble,” an apparent reference to Solo’s many off-the-field indiscretions.
Sundhage called Carli Lloyd, one of Solo’s closest allies on the U.S. team, a temperamental star with a fragile ego.
“When she felt that we had faith in her, she could be one of the best players,” Sundhage said. “But if she began to question that faith, she could be one of the worst. It was so delicate, so, so delicate.”
Since Pia Sundhage took over the Swedish team at the end of 2012, she has never lost to the United States. The teams have played four times. Sweden won once, and the other three matches have been draws.
Before the upset over Team USA, Sweden had hardly been impressive in these Olympics. They finished third in their group, beating South Africa 1-0, losing to Brazil 5-1 and playing China to a 0-0 draw — two goals in three games.
The United States took 27 shots. Six were on goal.
Sweden had just six shots, two on goal.
The United States earned 12 corner kicks; Sweden, just three.