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US Soccer suspends Hope Solo for 6 months

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After a series of incidents culminating in her post-game comments about Sweden, Solo is benched for half a year.

Olympics: Football-Women's Team-1st Round Group G-United States (USA) vs France (FRA) John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Hope Solo is no stranger to controversy, and it seems to have all finally come to a head for US Soccer. Solo is suspended from the USWNT for six months and US Soccer has terminated her national team contract.

Following her post-game comments after the United States was knocked out of the Olympics against Sweden, she called them “cowards,” which promptly earned her the censure of several figures around the women’s game and her own teammates, including Megan Rapinoe.

USSF says the suspension is for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.”

If that six months seems unduly harsh for calling out an opponent after a harsh elimination that went to penalty kicks, there’s also this from USSF president Sunil Gulati:

“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.”

Those past incidents include being in a team van driven by her husband while the WNT was in camp in January 2015. Not only was her husband not supposed to be driving the van, but he got pulled over and arrested for a DUI. Solo was suspended 30 days for that incident.

There’s also the matter of a domestic violence case pending against Solo; the charges were originally dismissed, but a Washington state appeals court reversed that decision.

This essentially seems like US Soccer calling it Solo’s third strike, although a sharp after-game comment is really not on par with being complicit in a DUI or being accused of domestic violence.

It should be noted this suspension is specifically for the WNT, but doesn’t apply to NWSL, where she plays with the Seattle Reign. USSF pays the salaries of all WNT players in NWSL.

The United States has two upcoming friendlies scheduled on September 15 and 18 against Thailand and the Netherlands respectively. Solo is out until February 2017, which would leave her available again just in time for the She Believes Cup, assuming US Soccer puts it on again and in the same month of March. It’s essentially the perfect time to suspend someone for six months, with lowkey friendlies and not much else on the schedule, although USSF will almost certainly schedule a couple more games between September and February, especially with NWSL ending in early October.

Having a postgame comment that was made in poor sportsmanship as the last straw on the way to a six-month suspension doesn’t really seem proportionate; perhaps it was a punishment that was a long time coming, but needed the Olympics to be over first.

Rich Nichols, executive director of the USWNT Players Association, said they would file an appeal on Solo’s behalf.

With Solo out of contract and no big tournaments until 2019, this may effectively be the end of her international career. For someone who was very recently touted by the federation for her 100 shutouts, that would be quite an ignominious ending, and certainly not the giant farewell game US Soccer would hope to milk for the retirement of the Hope Solo. Perhaps Solo will return for one last hurrah before she hangs up her gloves, whether she and US Soccer are on good terms or not.