When Hope Solo announced that she would be running for USSF president, two thoughts crossed my mind:
1) If anyone can turn a conversation in the direction they want, it’s Solo.
2) This will either go a long way toward rehabilitating the public’s opinion of Solo, or it will be the final nail in the public coffin of the greatest goalkeeper to have played the game.
After a month of Candidate Solo, it’s starting to become clear that the only person able to get in Hope Solo’s way, with seemingly ruthless effect, is Hope Solo.
Over the past few years, no one else has had so much success at tarnishing the image of the longtime WNT goalkeeper as Solo herself. At every opportunity, she makes the worst possible choices, as if listening to pundits drown her long legacy in endless hot takes about her character instead of her record and stats was her goal all along. When faced with what seems to be a clear and sensible path of action, she inevitably takes a hard left and veers off toward self-annihilation. And in her case? Taking the road less traveled has made all the difference over the past few years, as the world has watched her suspended from play in 2015 and then terminated from the WNT in 2016.
Now, in her campaign, Solo continues to wreak havoc on her own ambitions.
There’s the interview she gave on the “Why I’m Not” podcast, which did not help her candidacy. At all. This is an interview where Solo manages to move seamlessly between important points about the future of American football with personal attacks on a former teammate, overly boastful sentiments on a second former teammate who is still teammates with the first.
Instead of making a case for Hope Solo as USSF Pressident, she ends up making herself look petty in the process. Once again, Solo falls victim to her fatal flaw–saying the absolute wrong thing at the absolute wrong time.
The tone taken in this interview is more akin to someone trying to get their name back in the press after a retirement in order to sell a book or shirt or tickets to a speaking tour than it is fitting someone who is running for USSF President. And while this interview was recorded before Solo officially threw her hat in the ring, she had to know it would come out after she had. Whether she ran or not.
Even if the host of the podcast was less than optimal in his line of questions and his own tone, Solo had a chance here to speak about platform ideas and details about how she would go about fixing the mess she sees USSF to be. Even if this was taped before she declared herself for the job, she could have framed the issues for her audience and given some thoughts on how to correct them. That would have gone a long way to show she has been thinking about the issues in detail.
Every interview when you are running for elected office, even before you are officially on the ballot, is a chance to talk about your platform and to make your case for why you are the best person for the job. Why someone should vote for you to do the thankless work and shoulder the enormous responsibility.
And when this opportunity came to Solo’s door, she faltered.
But the podcast is not Solo’s biggest problem. A bad interview where she sounds more like a ex-player with a bone to pick than a natural choice for president is one thing.
No, the biggest problem with Solo’s candidacy is that she is unprepared, maybe even simply unwilling, to reign in her lesser angels. She seems almost hellbent on not only tarnishing her own own legacy but quiet possibly hurting the causes that she has spent years trying to champion.
I had hoped when Solo declared she was running for USSF President that she would somehow figure out how to control the part of her brain that seems to really enjoy putting her foot in her mouth. I thought maybe she would use a little bit of the relentless drive to be the best on the pitch to tighten up and to run the kind of campaign that would be willing to talk about overlooked issues.
But the campaign she’s running feels half baked at the best of times and utterly underwhelming at others. The rhetoric has been more vintage Solo than someone trying to be the President of USSF.
While not the singular authority on a candidate, their website should give some clue to the issues they care about and some vague idea of how they want to attack the issues they have identified.
Solo’s is both effective in the opening story about how her parents didn’t have the money to allow her to play in the Olympic Development Program but sparse of any real information beyond that.
Her section on women’s soccer for example gives little to no details about her thought process and what she plans to do if elected:
- Achieve Equal Pay for the USWNT and all women in the USSF workplace
- Push for the inclusion of women at all levels of the USSF executive and organizational hierarchy
- Eliminate sexism and discrimination
While the push for more women in USSF is something that everyone should be on board for the details are left to our collective imagination. She also leaves out the league she played in for four years.
If the disappointment in Solo as a candidate was limited to an interview given before she was officially running, that would be one matter. But Solo hasn’t been the force for changing the conversation toward women’s soccer among candidates. Nor she has yet to put out any real plans or details about what she would like to accomplish if elected. She did take the US Soccer Athletes Council survey and gave her thoughts on questions they submitted to all candidates. Though details still are scant there.
The one issue she has beaten the drum for over the last half decade is the better treatment of women athletes and upgraded standards for them. And yet when she has the biggest platform she could, she gives us a platform of 33 words, no details of how to achieve any of them, and more reasons to think she doesn’t have the understanding of how others perceive her.
When Solo entered the race, I was excited. I thought she could bring attention to an area of the race for USSF president that felt like it was being overlooked and given platitudes over substantial debate. A month later and I feel all the air has gone out of the room in terms of that excitement. I’ve made no bones about my feelings of her place in soccer’s landscape I still believe she is a first ballot hall of famer, the greatest goalkeeper in women’s soccer history. I don’t know if believing that Solo would be a force for changing narratives when she entered the race was foolish or idealistic. But with about a month left before the votes are cast it looks like Solo hasn’t learned how to get out of her own way off the pitch in order to be the force of good she often looks like she is trying to be.
Hope Solo is the only person that can get in Hope Solo’s way. She looks to be showing us one more time she’s as good at that as she is at goalkeeping.