Let’s start on the bright side of life.
Hope Solo should go down as one of the most dominant and incredible soccer players of all time. As a keeper, there may never be another player to equal her records or have such an elite team display such a ridiculous dependency upon their #1. Please note, none of these statements are limited to merely the women’s game…Solo’s accomplishments encompass the sport. It will be a travesty if she isn’t given the same hallowed place in US Women’s National Team lore as the most revered USWNT legends.
However, it’s time to place the bookend at the end of the career and let Hope retire quietly to the Seattle wilderness.
The easy and simple stuff for this? It is never going to be easier to make this move. Hope’s records are set at a ridiculous point. She is taking a leave of absence from her club team, and the suspension from the USWNT provides a quick out for US Soccer. The outcry would be at one of the lowest points that US Soccer could hope for in terms of letting Solo leave. Keeper’s don’t sell kits (Solo has started to market her own clothing anyway) and the USWNT has several players that are more high profile than the stellar keeper. When Solo was the face of the team, this would have been an impossible move…now, it would be a quick business decision with plenty of backing.
In terms of the on-pitch product, now is also a nice window for the USWNT. The team is ready for a new evolution and a younger slate, but Hope is still part of the old guard. While her reactions and ability to stop a team’s one amazing chance in the game are still at an incredible high, she doesn’t fit this new style that the team plays at. Her distribution isn’t made for this team, and her leg strength isn’t what it once was. Where Solo built a steady career putting a ball on Wambach’s head, there is no player that plays that style. The USWNT needs a player that can perform a sweeper-keeper role to help keep the ball on the ground and zipping between players as often as possible.
The USWNT is also making a huge push to bring in fans and support by projecting themselves as role models for the future generations, both male and female. This means that every player given the chance to play for the national team should be a beacon for youth the world over. Within the last few years, Solo has been involved in a domestic dispute case, found herself mixed up in a DUI situation while using a US Soccer van, been a poor loser to Sweden, and, with a recently released video showing her reaction to her suspension, dropped language incredibly unfitting for a USWNT star. We won’t discuss her social media decorum, but we’ll just mention that she hasn’t done so well on that front…
It’s three years from a World Cup and four years for the Olympics. The biggest window you can get to find a new keeper. Unless you plan on keeping Solo through the 2019 WWC, the training window will never be greater. There are also some experienced keepers that can help guide the next star between the USWNT sticks. The new future might suffer from the change, but it’s an easy decision when looking at the long-term future of the national team.
The only reasons to not take advantage of the situation would be from nostalgia and fandom. It’s time to move on, and this is the place to start.