A hot-button topic the first week of the Olympics was Hope Solo's reaction on social media to Brandi Chastain's analysis of the match between the U.S. and Colombia. Solo writes about the experience in the epilogue of her new book, "SOLO: A Memoir of Hope." Here is what ensued in the aftermath of Solo's tweets:
We knew France was good. But we knew we were better. Alex Morgan, with her lightning speed, kept getting behind France's defense. She got her second goal late in the game on a tap-in. We won 4–2, beating the best team in our preliminary group.
I was kind of pissed after the game when coach Pia Sundhage told reporters that the sun had been in my eyes on the first goal. Sure, there was glare. But I would never use the conditions as an excuse.
More annoying was the feedback I heard from home and from fans on Twitter about the way the game was being broadcast on television. NBC had hired Brandi Chastain to do the color commentary on our games. She had been relentlessly negative during our qualifying matches, nitpicking little details and criticizing Pia's strategy. I had tweeted back in January, "Hey brandi did you find anything positive in our game? Curious minds over here ..."
I'm not looking for a cheerleader -- far from it. We're all soccer junkies, and we hear a lot of expert commentary while we travel the world. I want the best of the best for our games, and I just don't feel that Brandi is very good at articulating the game. I love that ESPN added Ian Darke to their team for our World Cup, and I like Arlo White on NBC, but I feel that our networks too often take the easy way out: "Oh, let's hire Brandi. She's a world champion who took off her shirt, and people know her name. It doesn't really matter if she's a good analyst or not."
Everything Brandi says seems to have a direct correlation to her playing days, so many years ago. "When I played with Carla Overbeck ... " she will say again and again. I'm not sure that many of our new fans have any idea who Carla Overbeck was. It seems to be a continuation on that long-running theme: the '99 team would never give us our due or recognize how far the game had advanced or how much more athletically skilled our team was than theirs. They were clinging to their glory days and unwilling to recognize that times have changed. Most of us were sick of it.
Brandi kept up her negative posture in the days before the games began. She gave an interview to a blog called Larry Brown Sports, claiming my positive drug test was a distraction to the team. She said, "I was disappointed ... for as careful as I think everybody is, I think we could all go without some medication for a short amount of time and not suffer too greatly."
Huh? She didn't know what the hell she was talking about. Did she think I knew there was something in my medication that would turn up positive, even though I had been taking it for many months? Had I "disappointed" the great Brandi Chastain?
We watched the opening ceremonies on television at our Glasgow hotel, getting ready for our next match against Colombia. The game was a struggle.
Colombia just wanted to disrupt our flow, and one player, Lady Andrade, even resorted to sucker-punching Abby in the face. Still, we won, scoring three goals -- by Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, and Carli Lloyd -- and I didn't face many challenges. With the win, we were assured a berth in the quarterfinals.
So it was disappointing when we got on the bus, checked our phones, and got another onslaught of feedback about how negative Brandi had been on the broadcast. She was killing our defense, singling out Rachel Buehler in particular. Buehler was upset, and I didn't blame her. There wasn't much to criticize in the way we were playing, but somehow Brandi had decided Rachel was the weak link. Rachel was quiet on the bus. I felt bad for her; I know the feeling of being singled out, set apart from my team. A lot of us were frustrated by the sense that our accomplishment was being picked apart.
I got out my phone and logged on to Twitter.
- 2 bad we cant have commentators who better represent the team & know more about the game @brandichastain!
- Lay off commentating about defending and gking [goalkeeping] until you get more educated @brandichastain. the game has changed from a decade ago.
- Its important 2 our fans 2 enjoy the spirit of the olympics. Its not possible when sum1 on air is saying that a player is the worst defender.
- I feel bad 4 our fans that have 2 push mute, especially bc @arlowhite is fantastic. @brandichastain should be helping 2 grow the sport.
I knew that would get a reaction, but I felt that someone needed to stand up to Brandi. She had a microphone and an international platform. Why couldn't I voice my opinion? That's the beauty of social media.
When the tweets came across everyone's Twitter feed, the bus erupted with cheers.
"Hell yeah, Hope," my teammates cried. Christie Pearce Rampone and Abby Wambach and others offered up high fives. "Somebody finally said it," they said. It was a bonding moment for our team.
Within minutes my comments were retweeted around the world. And within the hour, blogs were filled with opinions about me. How could I take on a legend?
There's Solo going solo again. How could Solo not acknowledge what Brandi has done to grow the sport?
I know what Brandi and the other '99ers did for the sport. Believe me, you can't escape it. But I also know what we're doing for the sport -- something the old guard doesn't seem to want to recognize. We're a new generation, claiming our own mantle and doing as much for the sport as they did.
The uproar echoed online for a couple of days. It was early in the Olympics; I guess there wasn't that much else to talk about yet. Brandi had built up twenty years of goodwill with a lot of reporters, and they weighed in on her side. Julie Foudy fell in line, saying she was sad about the incident. A few emotional tweets had grown to ridiculous proportions.
When Pia met with reporters later, on Sunday, after meeting with me and the captains, she was asked if I was going to be disciplined or if I had been reprimanded. That made me laugh. Our meeting was about what we were doing in training. Pia told me that she, in fact, did press mute when she watched the games of ours that Brandi worked from the booth. My teammates shared the opinions that I had voiced on Twitter. We were tighter than ever.Excerpted from SOLO: A Memoir of Hope (co-written with Ann Killion) on sale from HarperCollins. Read the full Olympics epilogue.