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Hope Solo calls out Jill Ellis

Jill Ellis is a bad leader and poor tactician, according to Solo.

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

If there’s one thing you can say about Hope Solo, it’s that she speaks her mind. But now that she’s not currently on the US women’s national team (and it’s not looking likely that she’ll ever return), she’s really speaking her mind.

Solo went on 60 Minutes Sports to discuss her suspension from the US women’s national team, among other things, and ended up being her usual frank self, once again partly attributing the suspension to US Soccer wanting her gone from the team’s collective bargaining efforts, and partly calling it getting “fired for being a poor sport.” You can watch the video below courtesy of RJ Allen at Sounder at Heart.

To some extent her influence on those CBA negotiations has waned - but from the players’ side. The team just reorganized their union in an effort to make some forward movement in their talks with USSF, which included changing representation. Old lawyer Rich Nichols is out after originally being brought on by Solo, and talk of striking has faded, a situation that clearly has Solo a bit frustrated. “The pressure falls on the players to go on strike like we discussed this entire last year where we all sat there and said ‘we are ready for this.’ We are ready for this battle,” she told correspondent Norah O’Donnell. “We will do what it takes, because this is for women all across the world and this is a much bigger cause than just playing soccer. This is the right side of history. People with power don’t just give it up. You have to take it and you have to fight for it.”

Solo also discussed her shoulder replacement surgery, describing the titanium rod they inserted in her shoulder that extends down to her elbow, and saying she expects to be back to performing at a high level “within the next year.” Whether that includes returning to the NT itself remains to be seen. Perhaps Solo will test the waters by attempting to return to club soccer first. She is currently moving from Seattle to North Carolina, where NWSL has just moved the former Western New York Flash and renamed them the North Carolina Courage.

But O’Donnell summarized Solo’s comments on Jill Ellis, saying that Solo called Ellis “a poor leader and bad tactician.” Solo also says no team staff member has tried to contact her since she was suspended, though she was “very close” to some of them. Between the criticism from Solo and the silence from USSF staff, perhaps the gulf between the two is too great to ever be bridged again.

As for her teammates, Solo didn’t go as far to say that some of them might have wanted her gone. “That’s saying a lot. We won a World Cup together,” she said. “We fought hard for one another on the field and we’re in the fight of our lives, the fight for equal pay.”

Solo may never return to the WNT, or if she does, it will be in a much-reduced capacity, no longer the automatic starter and perhaps not even the backup. She may end up in a more mentoring role as the team’s third keeper, though some serious private conversations with Jill Ellis would probably have to happen first. Wherever she ends up, Solo doesn’t sound as though she’s quite done with soccer yet.