What They're Saying: Jill Ellis 06/11/2019

Ellis downplays comments by former US goalkeeper Hope Solo

Ellis downplays comments by former US goalkeeper Hope Solo

Solo was dismissed from the national team in 2016 after calling Sweden "cowards" following an Olympic loss and was back at it when talking to the BBC in the run-up to the World Cup.

"Comments are comments. Listen, I feel over the past five years I've made a lot of important decisions". And at this point everything and every focus is about this group of players that are here and now. Pundits that are out there, that's part of it. "And that's where we are".

She added: "I think the national team has shown they are not flawless, Jill Ellis is not ideal, coaching staff is not flawless, the team is not always flawless but they have a really high standard of excellence and I think that is what we should focus on and that's what we should appreciate".

Solo told a BBC podcast that Ellis was a poor leader and someone who "cracks under pressure".

Distractions come with the territory of being a US women's national team player.

It can be easy to get distracted not only by off-field matters in a World Cup, but with the tournament's on-field stories happening away from the US camp. "The United States knows how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is".

Now 37, Solo has not played for the national team or professionally since that suspension.

With the USWNT starting its World Cup against Thailand on Tuesday, Solo's comments set off a firestorm.

The federation maintained the decision was based on a culmination of events. According to Pro Soccer USA, Solo lives with her husband Jerramy Stevens in North Carolina on 50 acres and has been busy since the 2015 World Cup.

They go into this year's World Cup as favourites and the number-one ranked team. But luckily we won that 2015 World Cup and I was able to win a couple of Golden Gloves, which was a personal goal of mine, and a couple of gold medals.

"Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we've had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. national team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action", U.S. Soccer's then-president, Sunil Gulati, said at the time.

Though Ellis admitted her players were more than aware of the hosts' performance in Paris, she quickly pivoted to the immediate task at hand. "She represented this team for a very long time at a high level and she was one of the best goalkeepers in the world for a long time", Naeher said. "I have a lot of respect for the career she had".

"We've basically created a bubble for ourselves", midfielder Julie Ertz said. "Anything that you feel like doesn't keep you focused, we just try to eliminate it".