The US Women's National Team came in third place in the Women's World Cup in China. But the real story is how coach Greg Ryan's decision to bench keeper Hope Solo for the semi final turned the team into a soap opera. "Ryan's Hopeless" perhaps.
Ryan was already somewhat unpopular among US soccer fans. He seemed to be creating a team to relied on physical strength over soccer skills. Tactics became kicking the ball into the box and hoping Abby Wambach got her head on the ball. He rarely made substitutions, but when he did, they seemed strange.
Then came his decision to replace starting keeper Hope Solo with former starter Briana Scurry for the semi-final against Brazil. His reasoning was that Scurry always played well against Brazil and he claimed that he had planned this for a while. The only problems were that (i) he never told Solo and (ii) Scurry had not played much over the past 2 years.
While Brazil clearly outplayed the US, the situation did not help matters. The defense looked unorganized and the US had a run of bad luck ending in Brazil winning 4-0. Still, Brazil dominated the game and still would have won with Solo in the nets.
Then Solo, who the entire game was on the bench looking annoyed, mouthed off to the press. She was then benched for the third place game. She was not allowed to train or eat with the team. She apologized, but after a team meeting, voted off the island.
Judging from the reaction on BigSoccer.com, the US soccer fan base mostly supports Solo. The feeling seems to be that she should have started against Brazil, and that while she should not have said what she said after the game, the team should have accepted her apology.
Who says sports are dull!