Solo had become a distraction, they said, and principles of team unity dictated that she had to go. No word on the distraction her benching caused in the first place. No word on the impact team unity suffered when Ryan blamed the loss on Leslie Osborne's own goal three times in the span of a 45-second postgame interview. Solo never had the reputation of a troublemaker, just a fierce competitor. Just like Scurry. And she lashed out after being relegated to the bench on the eve of the biggest match the team had yet to play during her tenure, just like Scurry did after being benched for Suri Mullinix during the 2000 Olympics.
A tough competitor was caught in an intensely emotional moment and said some impolitic things. Does the heat of the moment mean we should be more lenient in our judgment of her statements, or less? Does pressure make your true colors glow more vividly, or does it leach them? In the end, we don't know what went on in the locker room after the game or at the team hotel after Solo's remarks went worldwide. But, in the end, the team (or the coaches, or the federation) came down on the side of heat-of-the-moment yapping causing irreparable harm to the team dynamic, no matter how accurate that talk struck damn near everyone who heard it, and the imperative to toe the company line gained primacy over all else. And players I admire dutifully repeated it as they closed ranks to head into the third-place game with their number one keeper banned from the stadium. And somewhere Greg Ryan is chuckling maniacally over successfully deflecting justified mountains of criticism for his crappy coaching onto a young player who spoke in the heat of the moment and will likely be cashiered from the national team for it.
Added forward Abby Wambach: "It just goes to show you have to be professional all the time and you have to watch what you say."
And that, y'all, is simultaneously the motto and the epitaph of the women's soccer program. Keep watching your mouth, Abby. I hoped for more from you.