FIFA Women’s World Cup: Hope Solo Rips USA Coach Jill Ellis Before First Match, ‘She Cracks Under Pressure’

As the United States Women's National Team prepares to open its World Cup campaign, former goalie Hope Solo is not holding back with her opinions of the team's coach.

Hope Solo speaks.
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As the United States Women's National Team prepares to open its World Cup campaign, former goalie Hope Solo is not holding back with her opinions of the team's coach.

The United States Women’s National Team opens its quest Tuesday for a fourth World Cup in just the eighth playing of the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament, as Sports Illustrated reports. An once again, the Americans enter the tournament as heavy favorites to claim the title, which would be a second back-to-back under 52-year-old Head Coach Jill Ellis. But the former goalie for Team USA, who played with the 2015 Cup winners, has chosen the days before her former team’s first game to rip into Ellis, on a BBC broadcast.

Hope Solo, now age 37, is not exactly a stranger to controversial comments. She was effectively fired from the team after the 2016 Olympics when she blasted the performance of one of the team’s opponents, Sweden, calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” after they eliminated Team USA on penalty kicks in the Olympic quarterfinals, as NBC Sports reported. “The best team did not win,” Solo said after the match, in which Sweden played a predominantly defensive style throughout the game.

Solo’s latest broadside came on the BBC podcast Football Daily, in which she opened by describing what she said was her own close relationship with Ellis, during her time playing for the British-born coach.

Jill Ellis watches the action.
  Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

“I was closer to the coaching staff than I was to my own players. The younger players often spend most of their time on social media, and can’t carry on a conversation,” Solo said, quoted by Yahoo! News. “Whereas the coaching staff and older players on the team are still talking about politics, and things that are boring to the youth players.”

But Solo did not let her claimed closeness to Ellis stop her from directly attacking Ellis’s coaching abilities — and her character, as NBC Sports reported.

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“She’s not the leader I wish her to be,” Solo said of Ellis. “She cracks under the pressure quite a bit.”

But Solo added that quality of players on Team USA was “superb,” which overcame any coaching deficiencies. “It doesn’t matter oftentimes who’s coaching us, because we’ll find a way to win,” she said, “in spite of who the coach is.”

She went on to accuse Ellis of letting her desire to “stroke the ego of players” prevent her from helping the team fix its mistakes. Ellis, she claimed, refused to allow the players to watch film of goals scored against them, because “Jill didn’t want to break any players.” Instead, she said, Ellis would simply “brush (mistakes) under the carpet.”