International Soccer
U.S. lost all Hope before semi

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

Stoppage Time Hangzhou, China (Sports Network)- Hope Solo's voice cracked, but her words were still potent following the United States' loss to Brazil in the Women's World Cup on Thursday.

"It was the wrong decision," said Solo, the United States' top goalie, about being benched by coach Greg Ryan in favor of veteran Brianna Scurry. "Anybody who knows anything about the game knows that."

With Solo sitting on the bench in her familiar green goalie jersey and shorts, Scurry was overmatched in a 4-0 loss to Brazil.

It was an unfortunate ending for the Americans, and likely to Scurry's career.

She was the top goalie for the United States in the last three World Cups, including the 1999 championship team. Most recently, Scurry led the United States to the Olympic gold in 2004.

Sure, Scurry was 12-0 in her career against Brazil, including the gold medal match of the '04 Olympics and a 2-0 win in a friendly just three months ago.

But Scurry's star status - she's arguably the greatest goalie in the history of women's soccer - dimmed long ago.

Hope Solo
Hope Solo did not allow a goal in three straight games in the World Cup before being replaced.
"The fact of the matter is it's not 2004. It doesn't matter what somebody did in the Olympics three years ago," Solo said. "It's 2007 and I think you have to live in the present."

Still, Ryan made the biggest gamble of his coaching career at the worst time.

He had long stood behind Solo as the team's top goalie, and she hadn't allowed a goal in three straight games in the World Cup.

No reason to make a change, right?

Apparently, Ryan got the idea of using Scurry after the recent match in June if the teams met in the World Cup.

Problem is he didn't tell anybody - most specifically Solo - until Tuesday.

There's no question the decision to start Scurry rattled the Americans.

Instead of the top-ranked team in the world riding a wave of confidence, not to mention a 51-game unbeaten streak, in the semifinal it was distracted and off its game from the start.

Just 20 minutes into Thursday's semifinal, poor communication between U.S. midfielder Leslie Osborne and Scurry led to an own goal that gave Brazil a quick 1-0 lead.

Not long after, Brazilian great Marta put a shot off Scurry's fingertips and into the right corner of the net.

After the United States went down to 10 players - it lost midfielder Shannon Boxx to a red card late in the first half - Scurry surrendered two more goals.

Not only was it the worst loss in the history of the World Cup for the United States, but it was also the worst loss in its history. The Americans had never lost a game by four goals before.

Although it's tough to put all the blame on Scurry - she hadn't started a game since June - it's too easy to wonder, would Solo have made those saves?

"There's no doubt in my mind," said Solo, who sat on the bench with an angry look on her face and her arms folded across her chest after Brazil scored its fourth goal.

Ryan defended his decision after the match, but when he gets a chance to look back he'll have to second-guess himself.

It was obvious the United States lost all Hope with Solo on the bench.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?
Contact Pat Martin at pmartin@sportsnetwork.com
Contact Tim Keeble at tkeeble@sportsnetwork.com
Contact Brian Westfall at bwestfall@sportsnetwork.com

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