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Hope Solo wants to return to the USWNT...if USSF will let her

Solo doesn’t just want to return, she’s prepared to dig in her heels over the WNT’s new collective bargaining agreement.

USA v New Zealand: Women's Football - Olympics: Day -2 Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Back in August, after the Olympics were over, U.S. Soccer suspended Hope Solo from the USWNT for six months.

At the time, USSF claimed it wasn’t due to any one thing. USSF president Sunil Gulati said, “Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”

They were referring to at least two past incidents with Solo, one in which she was in a team van being driven by her husband who got pulled over and arrested for DUI (that one got her a 30-day suspension), and another in which she was arrested for domestic violence in the fourth degree in 2014. Her comments on Sweden after losing to them on penalty kicks in the Olympic quarterfinals, calling them “cowards” for their strategy of sitting back and absorbing U.S. attacks, were just the excuse USSF needed to suspend her.

Solo has now given a new interview to Anne M. Peterson for the Associated Press calling her suspension an effective firing and that USSF wanted her gone in order to weaken the WNT’s fight for equal pay. She also expresses her desire to return to the team, although the decision is up to US Soccer and WNT head coach Jill Ellis.

Solo says she remains committed to the equal pay fight, and that she also can commit more to it than players still on the team can due to having already lost her position. “I think with some of the player there are different intentions — because they want to play the game that they love. It's easier for me to fight and put everything into it than it is for them,” Solo told Peterson.

The original faces of the equal pay fight were Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo, as the five team members who initially signed the team’s federal complaint against USSF with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But a recent WNT interview on 60 Minutes shows the four WNT players currently acting as the face of the team’s dispute are Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, and Morgan Brian.

Of course it’s good to show more than just five players are committed to the issue and that some of them, like Brian, are from the younger generation. But Solo’s accusation that USSF wanted her voice gone isn’t entirely without merit. Unfortunately for her, USSF’s other reasons for suspending her aren’t without merit either, for all that they should have been carried out long ago and not when they no longer had big tournaments on the line.

Solo’s suspension will be up in February of 2017, just before the WNT will reconvene for the SheBelieves tournament in March. Currently, goalkeeping duties are being split between Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher, who have long been vying for the #2 spot behind Solo and are both now finally getting starter-level, 90-minute experience on a regular basis. Should Solo return, it would be interesting to see if she eventually earns her way back to the #1 spot or if some combination of politics and her recent shoulder replacement surgery keeps her on the bench as a backup and voice of experience.