I took yesterday off. Day of mourning. Plus I was tired after getting up early to watch the stunning defeat of the US by an amazing Brazilian team lead by the mind-boggling, dizzying footwork of star Marta. The defeat was actually not all that stunning. I suspected the US might not be able to pull this one off. Certainly not with the way they had been playing thus far (with the possible exception of their match against England).
Do I think the replacement of Hope Solo had an effect. Yes. But I also think a better team, a team with better leadership would have rallied and risen above this change. But they were despondent on that field and everyone knew it.
Julie Foudy was right when she said it was not fair to either Solo or Brianna Scurry. Overall, I thought Foudy did an excellent job in the booth this World Cup. USA Today comments that Foudy, when Shannon Boxx was kicked out of the game on a bad call by the referee, she said the US was playing a man down. She did, but she immediately corrected herself and said a player down. She actually, in earlier games was conscientious about this and would correct herself when she said man-on-man or something similar. All that time hanging out at the Women's Sports Foundation had an influence!
What happens now though? I suspect we will see Solo back in goal Sunday unless Ryan chooses to punish her for speaking out so vehemently against the decision. ESPN columnist Jemele Hill has an excellent piece about the Solo comments. (She said she would have made the saves and basically trashed Scurry for her perforance and Ryan for living in the past and relying on Scurry who Solo implies is a has-been.) I think this situation, and Hill's assessment of it, really shows the intricacies of team sports. You need to bond with your team, be supportive--certainly the US team has touted its closeness over the years--and yet you're often competing with certain team mates for positions and time played.
And this must create tension. There was going to be tension following this decision regardless. But Solo's post-game comments do not help matters. Former coach and current commentator Tony DiCiccio noted earlier in the tournament that team USA's sport psychologist did not travel with them to China. That was probably a mistake. A professional could have helped diffuse some of the strong emotions that emerged from this situation.
What will happen to Greg Ryan is the bigger question for consideration after the tournament. I never thought he was all that and even prior to this goalie decision I thought he was overplaying his starters and not going to his very talented bench enough.
Third place game starts at 5am EST Sunday morning. I need to fins someone with Tivo. But the Brazil-Germany match-up looks to be amazing. Brazil has momentum and Marta and Germany's keeper is like a wall turning back every ball that comes her way.