By Mark Bechtel
A further thought on the women's soccer gold. It's funny: The whole Hope Solo/World Cup controversy sprang up when former coach Greg Ryan benched Solo against Brazil in the World Cup because he thought Briana Scurry was a better pure shot stopper than Solo. Then today, Solo made about a dozen huge plays--and only maybe three or four were saves. (Granted, a couple of them were spectacular.) She did an amazing job handling crosses and corners, her distribution was great--in short, she did everything that Ryan decided wasn't important enough to keep her in the lineup. In the face of that relentless attack, just about any other keeper in the world would have been caught out of position at some point. But Solo didn't. She made the saves when she had to, but just as important, she didn't give Brazil a single break.
I doubt there was much, if any, residual ill will among her teammates coming into Olympics--Solo's comments about Scurry were made almost a year ago. But if there was, I'm guessing all is completely forgiven now, because without Solo I don't think the US pulls that gold medal out. All in all, it was a great effort from the entire tea,. I didn't think they had much of a chance to beat Brazil, but they gutted it out. Nice job.