U.S. women’s soccer leaving past behind

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The decision by U.S. women’s Olympic soccer Coach Pia Sundhage to leave Olympic veteran Briana Scurry off the Beijing team was a huge disappoinment for the veteran goalkeeper, as The Times Grahame Jones found out today after talking with her. Read what she had to say.

But the coach’s decision also brings to mind what happened during last year’s World Cup. It wasn’t pretty, and it involved an aging Scurry (she’s 36) taking over in goal for Hope Solo (she turns 27 next month), despite the fact that Solo was coming off three consecutive shutouts. Yes, three straight shutouts. And going into what would have been the biggest -- and toughest -- game of Solo’s career, against powerful Brazil. Well, Brazil won after


Scurry gave up four goals, and reporters after the game rushed over to Solo, naturally. And an angry Solo spoke out. But then the women on the team did something childish -- they ostracized Solo and rallied around Scurry.

The coach, Greg Ryan, says he started Scurry on a hunch. (Great hunch, eh?) And then he did nothing when Solo was rejected by her teammates. So he was fired. Good move, because that’s when the team slowly began to heal. Solo eventually returned to the team, which The Times’ Kurt Streeter wrote about in April. And now the women’s soccer team is primed for an Olympic run.

There is no disputing Scurry’s past greatness, as The Times’ Grahame Jones wrote on Monday when the decision came down. And the World Cup controversy? Well, Scurry didn’t put herself in the game. Sundhage, he reports, left Scurry off the Olympic team for reasons rooted in soccer, not in the past.

-- Debbie Goffa

Top photo: Hope Solo can’t believe what she sees during the U.S. semifinal loss to Brazil in last year’s World Cup. Teammate Aly Wagner is at left. Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images

Inset photo: Briana Scurry last September. Julie Jacobson / Associated Press