U.S. stay calm as Solo storm threatens to pick up steam

Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:57pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - On the surface the U.S. team are ticking along nicely in the Women's World Cup in Canada, but a growing controversy over allegations surrounding goalkeeper Hope Solo are threatening to take the gloss off the team's performances.

The U.S. came through unbeaten from the 'Group of Death', which included three teams in the top-10, and have striker Abby Wambach in top form, while Solo is anchoring an air-tight defense.

The team have also rediscovered their swagger as they are cheered along by the World Cup's most vocal supporters and all the signs are indicating the Americans are progressing nicely as they face Colombia in Edmonton in the knockout phase.

Solo's refusal to confront new allegations over a domestic abuse case, however, are causing unwanted headlines off the field.

U.S. Soccer has kept Solo away from the media while far lower profile team mates have been pushed into the spotlight even though the goalkeeper has provided some brilliant work, particularly in their opener against Australia.

As the Americans progress deeper into the tournament the scrutiny is sure to increase along with questions as to why she has been allowed to play at all despite allegations in a report by ESPN that she was the aggressor in a domestic abuse incident involving her half sister and nephew.

When charges were dismissed earlier this year, U.S. Soccer thought the controversy was put to rest but it now is threatening to become an even bigger distraction, with a politician questioning the decision to allow it to fester.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal last week called on U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati to "conduct an investigation into Solo's case and reconsider her participation in the World Cup".   Continued...

Jun 16, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; United States goalkeeper Hope Solo (1) and defender Becky Sauerbrunn (4) and defender Meghan Klingenberg (22) and defender Ali Krieger (11) celebrate their win over Nigeria in a Group D soccer match in the 2015 FIFA women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports