Goalkeeper Hope Solo has decided to end her season with the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League.
The beleaguered goalkeeper, who was handed a six-month suspension and saw her contract with U.S. Soccer terminated last week, announced her departure from her professional club team in a statement Tuesday.
U.S. Soccer suspended Solo following disparaging comments she made about Sweden during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, calling her opponents a “bunch of cowards” for their defensive style of play during the quarterfinals. She won’t be eligible for selection to the national team again until February.
Before a match last weekend against the Portland Thorns, the Reign announced Solo was granted an indefinite personal leave. Haley Kopmeyer took over for Solo in goal and the Reign won 3-1.
“Coming to terms with the fact I was fired from the U.S. Women’s National Team after 17 years of service has been devastating. After careful consideration, I have decided to end my season with the Seattle Reign, an organization I love playing for,” Solo said Tuesday. “Mentally, I am not there yet. After watching the team’s win against Portland this weekend and seeing Haley Kopmeyer playing so well in goal, I truly believe this decision is what’s best for me and for the Reign organization.”
Reign head coach and general manager Laura Harvey issued a statement saying that while the team was disappointed in Solo’s decision, it was understood and respected.
“Hope has always wanted what is best for our team — she is a relentless trainer, a fierce competitor and demands from herself nothing less than excellence on the pitch,” Harvey said.
The three-time defending champion U.S. women were handed their earliest-ever exit from the Olympics earlier this month when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw on Aug. 12.
Sweden’s coach, Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. team to gold medals in Beijing and London, replied to Solo’s postgame “cowards” comment by stating: “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.” Sweden went on to play in the gold-medal match against Germany.
Solo had caused a stir in Brazil even before the comment about Sweden because of social media posts over the Zika virus, showing her wearing mosquito netting and armed with insect repellant. Brazilian fans booed her mercilessly and shouted “Zika!” every time she touched the ball.
While talented in goal, controversy has shadowed the 35-year-old Solo throughout her career.
She still faces a possible trial on misdemeanor domestic violence charges after a 2014 incident at her sister’s home, when she was accused of being intoxicated and assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew. Solo said she was a victim in the altercation. Earlier this year, an appeals court in Washington state rejected Solo’s request to avoid trial.
In early 2015 while Solo was at a team training camp in Southern California, her husband Jerramy Stevens was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in a U.S. Soccer team van. Solo was with him at the time.
The former Seattle Seahawks tight end later pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and four years on probation. Solo was suspended by U.S. Soccer for 30 days.
There were other incidents as well, including Twitter comments she made about former U.S. player Brandi Chastain during the London Games, and public criticism of coach Paul Ryan during the 2007 World Cup over his decision to start Briana Scurry in the semifinals, a match the Americans lost. Solo was sent home early from the tournament.
U.S. Soccer indicated in its statement announcing her suspension Wednesday that it was a culmination of events.
The controversies have tainted Solo’s legacy in the net.
She became the first goalkeeper with 100 international shutouts last month when the United States defeated South Africa 1-0 at Soldier Field in Chicago. It also was her 150th career win.
During the Rio Games she made her 200th appearance in goal for the United States, an international record.
Solo won her second straight Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper at the Women’s World Cup a year ago. Over the course of the tournament in Canada, she had five shutouts and allowed only three goals in seven games. The U.S. won the World Cup for its third title in soccer’s premier event.