The crowded field of candidates running to succeed Sunil Gulati as president of the U.S. Soccer Federation just got a bit more crowded with former national team goalkeeper Hope Solo announcing she is joining the race.
”I know exactly what U.S. Soccer needs to do, I know exactly how to do it, and I possess the fortitude to get it done,” Solo said in announcing her candidacy in a lengthy Facebook post Thursday. ”I have always been willing to sacrifice for what I believe in and I believe there is no greater sacrifice then fighting for equal opportunity, integrity and honesty, especially in an organization like the USSF that could give so much more to our communities across the nation.”
Solo, a World Cup and Olympic champion, is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in women’s soccer history. But her candidacy has raised more than a few eyebrows given her checkered relationship with the USSF.
She joined four teammates in filing an equal-pay complaint against the federation in 2016, for example, and was suspended twice by the USSF since 2015 — once for joining her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, in commandeering a team van during training camp, an escapade that ended when Stevens was cited for DUI.
The second suspension came in 2016 after Solo called the Swedish team “cowards” after it played a defensive game and beat the U.S. on penalty kicks in quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics. Solo never played again, finishing her international career with 202 appearances, 153 wins and 102 shutouts.
Off-field problems include a domestic-violence case involving her nephew and half-sister in 2014 in her home state of Washington.
In announcing her candidacy, Solo, 36, said she has four main objectives: to create a winning culture; ensure equal pay for the women’s team; to address the USSF’s controversial “pay for play” model; and to establish transparency within the organization.
“What we have lost in America is belief in our system, in our coaches, in our talent pool, and in the governance of U.S. Soccer,” she wrote. ”We now must refocus our goals and come together as a soccer community to bring about the changes we desire.”
Solo is the ninth person — and fourth former national team player — to enter the presidential campaign. The other players are Paul Caligiuri, Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino. Solo is also the second female candidate, joining Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing, on the ballot.
The election will be held in early February in Orlando, Fla.
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11