Say what you like about Hope Solo, but she sure has a remarkable sense of timing. Perhaps you should expect nothing less from one of the best goalkeepers in women’s soccer history, but Solo knows just when to pounce for maximum exposure.
On Thursday, exactly a week before the World Cup starts and six days before the host of the 2026 tournament is announced, Solo detonated her latest verbal grenade. It was quite the zinger, too, with the 36-year-old telling the Associated Press and CNN that she hopes the United States misses out (along with Mexico and Canada) on the right to stage soccer’s top men’s event in eight years’ time.
Given the loathing she holds for US Soccer, the sport's governing body in this country, maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But, given how these things work, it was still somewhat unusual to hear one of the best national team players ever be so insistent on wanting a significant moment in the sport’s history to pass the USA by.
“I can’t say it should be awarded to Morocco,” Solo told the AP, referencing the only rival to the three-way North American bid. “But I don’t think it should go to the United States, and that’s hard to say.”
She doubled down with CNN. “I think it should be awarded to a country which abides by federal law, who is transparent, who runs their non-profit organizations in the way it should be run, who aren’t hiding millions of dollars, and a company who actually answers these questions that want to be answered,” Solo added, referring to US Soccer. “They just ignore everybody.”
Solo has a valid opinion and she is perfectly entitled to it. She is not entirely alone in thinking that US Soccer and Major League Soccer are too powerful, that aspects of the domestic game are run poorly, or that having just missed out on qualifying or the men’s World Cup, the U.S. is hardly deserving of staging one.
Most would argue that a build-up of interest over the next eight years would actually be the perfect start to the rebuilding process, but that’s hardly the point.
Sad to say, but the fact is that even when Solo mixes some sense into her messages, many tune out simply because it is her who is doing the talking.
With her history of shooting from the lip, dating back to the critical rant against goalkeeping teammate Bri Scurry at the 2007 World Cup that got her sent home, all the way to describing victorious opponent Sweden as “cowards” at the 2016 Olympics, Solo has diluted the effectiveness of her message.
Hours before speaking to the media in Europe, where she will serve as World Cup analyst for an Irish television station this summer, she blasted the media on Twitter for not covering the fact that domestic violence charges filed against her in 2014 had been dropped.
A few points here — the dropping of the case (because the key witness would not testify against Solo) — was covered, extensively, across countless media outlets. And further, Solo spent much of the 2015 World Cup and periods of time since refusing to publicly give her side of the story despite being presented with multiple chances to do so.
Her words this week aren’t going to have any real effect. There are too many factors in play in the vote, many of them based on regional alliances, for the words of a former player with a history of incendiary comment to do any damage to the 2026 bid.
Just like her doomed bid for the presidency of US Soccer that captured just 1.4 percent of the vote in a five-horse race, it has been a fleeting sideshow at a time when matters of soccer politics become briefly interesting.
But either way, it has gotten Solo back into the spotlight for a little bit, a couple of years on from her last meaningful soccer game, which perhaps was the whole point all along.