U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo didn’t back down Monday from her Twitter outburst against NBC analyst Brandi Chastain, saying the tweets were her way of expressing her opinion about the quality of television announcers.
Solo addressed the matter briefly on her 31st birthday during the team’s tour of historic Old Trafford stadium, where the Americans will play North Korea on Tuesday. She didn’t apologize or express regret, and she answered only one question about the matter, declining to address, among other things, whether a social media rant in the middle of the Olympics was the proper time and means to convey her feelings about broadcasters.
”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.”
She indeed declined to answer follow-up questions about the matter, including whether she has spoken to Chastain.
Solo’s words prompted NBC Sports to weigh in for the first time, releasing a statement in support of its announcer.
”We are thrilled to be able to offer such complete and compelling coverage of the entire Olympic soccer tournament, and Brandi has been doing an outstanding job,” NBC spokesman Adam Freifeld said. ”We wish the U.S. women’s team the best of luck.”
Solo railed against Chastain’s commentary following the Americans’ 3-0 win over Colombia on Saturday, upset over Chastain’s criticisms of the team’s defensive play. She tweeted that Chastain should ”lay off commentating about defending” and goalkeeping ”until you get more educated” and ”the game has changed from a decade ago.”
The outburst led to a meeting with Solo, coach Pia Sundhage and the team captains on Sunday, with the coach expressing concern about how the tweets reflected on the team’s image and the need to cut out distractions and focus on the next game. The coach did not tell Solo to stop tweeting.
Solo has never been shy about expressing opinions. Her criticism of then-coach Greg Ryan got her kicked off the 2007 World Cup team. She’s also been promoting a memoir that is scheduled for release two days after the Olympics.
Chastain, one of the most accomplished players in U.S. team history, has refused to be drawn into the dispute, saying Monday that she’s doing her job as an ”honest and objective journalist at the Olympics.”
The Solo-Chastain saga has been a diversion from the buildup to a historic match. About 35,000 fans are expected Tuesday, which would be a record for a women’s game at the home of Manchester United. The stadium hasn’t hosted a women’s match since 1989.
”You can see why they talk of all the magic inside. It’s pretty amazing,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said after the players spent about 20 minutes taking photos at midfield. ”Walking into the changing rooms and seeing all the trophies and legends, it’s pretty cool.”
The Americans won their first two games and have already clinched a berth in the next round, but they’ll want a victory to sustain momentum and get a better draw in the quarterfinals.
Midfielder Shannon Boxx, who injured her right hamstring in the opening win over France, will miss her second consecutive game.