If you were expecting Hope Solo and Brandi Chastain to come together and sing kumbaya under the Team USA flag and reconcile after Solo's Twitter haymakers... keep waiting. It doesn't look the two US Soccer icons are going to bury the hatchet any time soon. In the last two days, both Solo and Chastain have publicly addressed Solo's announcing critiques for the first time. Neither one has given any ground.
Monday, Solo offered even more details on how she really feels about NBC's top women's soccer analyst for these London Olympics, as chronicled by the New York Daily News:
“It’s not about what made me unhappy,” Solo said. “It’s not about one game. I have my beliefs that the best commentators and the best analysts should be analyzing come Olympics, come World Cups, and it’s only my opinion. You can take it or leave it, to be honest, so it’s my opinion, and I think analysts and commentators should bring energy and excitement and passion for the game, and a lot of knowledge, and I think it’s important to help build the game, and I don’t think Brandi has that.
“It’s just my opinion, and nothing else really matters, to be honest. What matters is tomorrow’s game against North Korea, playing at Old Trafford. The team’s excited. It’s my birthday. I don’t really care to answer any other questions about Brandi.”
Well, that is Hope Solo's opinion... and she's definitely entitled to it. I'm just impressed she follows sports media and announcers so closely. It warms my heart to some degree. If she's that dedicated to the announcing beat, there's definitely a spot for her at AA. But... I'm guessing Solo's opinion has to do more with the person behind the mic than what's actually being said. The actual analysis that got Solo so fired up was ordinary beyond description.
But, to her credit, Chastain is taking the high road in this USA women's soccer generational duel. Chastain told Us Weekly:
"My only comment is I am in London to cover women's soccer for NBC in an honest and objective fashion, and that is what I have done, and will continue to do for the rest of the tournament."
Sorry to disappoint those of you looking for a full on bloodbath. At least during the remainder of the Games, I would expect that note to temporarily provide a ceasefire to this feud.
Hope Solo has faced some criticism of her own for having a run at Chastain with her blunt comments bringing to light a growing rift between the current generation of USA women's soccer stars and the last generation of stars like Chastain and Mia Hamm. That kind of distraction is certainly not what coach Pia Sundhage is looking for in trying to win a gold medal in 2012.
It's a compelling situation because of its rarity and brutal honestly. On one hand, this is clearly a narrative that reflects poorly on Solo and USA soccer because it makes the keeper's vendetta against Chastain (whatever it is and however it came about) appear bigger than the team's pursuit for gold. It makes you ask questions about the extent of a feud or rivalry between the old and new guard. On the other hand, we're always begging for athletes to be more forthcoming and honest and give us more than well oiled cliche machines. Hope Solo is certainly not a carefully manufactured and vetted soundbyte.
In the end, as long as the USA women's soccer team keeps winning as they did against North Korea on their way to a gold medal, the Solo-Chastain feud will move to the backburner and everything will be fine. If the team gets upset and Solo allows a leaky goal or two... well, let's hope it doesn't come to that for everyone involved.