Abby Wambach says she disagrees with how Hope Solo classified Sweden as “a bunch of cowards” after the United States women’s national team’s loss in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Wambach, appearing on the Dan Patrick Show before the third stop on her book tour promoting her recently released memoir, called Solo’s words “playground stuff.”
“I have big problems [with] that,” Wambach said. “You never call another team coward after you’ve just been beaten. The rules in the game are the rules in the game, and you don’t want to be a sore loser – not when you’re the best team in the world. That, to me, looks weak.
“When you’re pointing fingers at another team that just beat you and calling them cowards, that’s like playground stuff. Be a professional. Stand up and say, ‘you know what, they beat us at our own game. They played better than us today.’ Call a spade a spade. If I were Sweden, it’s exactly what I would have done. It’s exactly the team Sweden has always been, and the team Sweden has always been known to play. That’s the way that they’ve always played.”
Solo, 35, was suspended for six months by U.S. Soccer and had her national-team contract terminated after making the remarks about Sweden. She soon after announced she would not play again this year for Seattle Reign FC, and her playing future remains in doubt.
U.S. Soccer said that the suspension and contract termination were a result of an accumulation of missteps by the goalkeeper. Solo suggested that it was a form of retaliation for her role as one of the more outspoken players in the team’s ongoing negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, which expires at the end of the year.
Wambach retired last year as a two-time Olympic gold-medalist, a World Cup champion and the all-time leader in career international goals for a man or a woman with 184. She was the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.
Wambach described her “love-hate relationship” with Solo as that of sisters: sometimes they got on each others’ nerves and argued a lot, acknowledging that they are both big personalities. Wambach and Solo played together on the national team from 2001-2015.
Asked if she liked Solo as a teammate, Wambach said: “That is a very pointed question. I think that I respected her ability on the field. Hope and I clashed a lot, right? We butted heads.”
Wambach said Solo was the best goalkeeper she ever played alongside.
Something missing in Brazil
Wambach, also said that she thought the U.S. women were lacking an identity at the Olympics.
“I think that they just got really tight. They got nervous. I think that they weren’t performing that well throughout the tournament; they had moments of doing well, but overall, for me, they didn’t have a soul. They kind of looked like a team that were trying to define themselves, but were trying too hard, if that makes sense.”
But Wambach says when asked that the aforementioned “soul” that was missing this year was not her.
“I have nothing but love and respect, and I know how hard it is to play on this stage. And I know everything has to come and happen perfectly to advance in big championship games, but I do think that something was missing. And it’s not me, it was just something. There was this thing that was missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.”
Addressing her health
Wambach’s memoir, which was released on Tuesday, is a candid story about the side of her life most people never knew. She admits that she was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs of years, but she has said that she has been sober since her April 3 DUI arrest in Portland.
She reiterated on Thursday’s appearance on the Dan Patrick Show that the looming end of her soccer career exasperated her downward spiral as she tried to come to grips with no longer having soccer.