U.S. coach, teammates back Hope Solo after ESPN reports

U.S teammates of Hope Solo say they fully support her after latest ESPN reports on the goalkeeper

Hope Solo's coach and teammates closed ranks around the goalkeeper Sunday after a pair of ESPN reports re-examined the events surrounding Solo's arrest last June.

"Hope's my teammate," Abby Wambach said. "We are creating a bubble and we want nothing to penetrate that bubble right now."

The U.S. plays its World Cup opener Monday against Australia and Wambach insisted the Solo story wouldn't be a distraction.

"All of our focus is on what we, individually, can do to help our team win games," said Wambach, who had previously clashed with Solo. "That is our focus. And nothing else is going to get in the way of that."

According to the ESPN stories, which were based on police records and sworn depositions, Solo was combative and insulted police during her arrest at her half-sister's house in Kirkland, Wash.

Solo faced two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence before the charges were dropped on procedural grounds. Prosecutors say they plan to appeal a judge's decision to dismiss the case.

Days after those charges were dropped in January, Solo was in a U.S. Soccer van when her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, was arrested on suspicion of DUI during the U.S. team's winter training camp in Manhattan Beach. Solo was suspended for a month following that incident.

A U.S. Soccer spokesman said the federation would not comment on Sunday's ESPN report.

But Coach Jill Ellis did, backing her goalie.

"That was a long time ago," she said of Solo's arrest. "We've moved on. And she's been a fantastic player and a teammate.

"So none of that's even resonated with us. And I'm sure many of the players aren't aware of it."

Midfielder Carli Lloyd, Solo's roommate in Canada, said she knew of the story but wasn't concerned about its contents.

"Honestly," Lloyd said "I didn't discuss it with her for one second."

FIFA goes MIA

The official FIFA logo is everywhere at the six World Cup stadiums spread across Canada. But FIFA officials?

Not so much.

Only three members of FIFA's executive committee were in Edmonton for the opening game of the World Cup on Saturday, with the corruption scandal that has engulfed world soccer's governing body keeping most of the group's top brass in Zurich, Switzerland, where FIFA is headquartered.

Last week a FIFA spokesperson said President Sepp Blatter planned to attend the event, where he traditionally hands out medals to the winning and runner-up teams. But that was later amended, with a spokesperson telling the Canadian Press days later that "the future travel plans of the FIFA President will be confirmed in due course."

Blatter's chief aide, Secretary General Jerome Valcke, was a no-show at a pre-World Cup news conference, over which he was to preside. And no FIFA officials participated in Saturday's opening ceremony.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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