Gulati: Hope Solo might not be with USA for 2015 World Cup

USA goalkeeper Hope Solo was suspended by U.S. Soccer for 30 days last week.  

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U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo will have to make progress toward a series of objectives in order to return to the team after her 30-day suspension concludes, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Monday.

Solo received the month-long ban on Friday in the wake of incident in Manhattan Beach, Calif. last Monday. Solo’s husband, Jerramy Stevens, was arrested on suspicion of DUI while driving a U.S. Soccer van, according to TMZ.

Gulati said he discussed the matter with U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn and U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis last week before the federation issued its suspension.

"There are a number of things that Hope is being asked to do in that 30 days," Gulati said during a conference call. "We’re not going to get into the specifics of that. We’ll evaluate where things stand at the end of that period and then make a decision going forward."

Ellis said the circumstances here — Solo was in the middle of training camp in Carson, Calif. during the incident — required a response before her team departed for high-profile friendlies against France (Feb. 8) and England (Feb. 13) next month.

"This situation warranted a consequence," Ellis said. "We thought it was reasonable. Obviously, from the perspective of two very, very big games, this is important for us to be able to focus the players that we have on these games and allow Hope some time to reflect on some things. As far as specifics, we’re not going to get into those. Hope and I have had some very good conversations. I’m optimistic about her moving forward."

Solo’s suspension will open the door for other goalkeepers to stake their claims for regular playing time in the buildup to the World Cup. Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City and Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit) spent most of last year jockeying for the backup role, while Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers) made her debut against Argentina last month and also featured in the January camp.

Ellis expressed confidence in the trio, but the prospect of losing Solo for any length of time would leave her team with a significant void to fill nevertheless.  Gulati did not rule out Solo missing the World Cup for one reason or another, but he noted that he wanted to see her fulfill the terms of her suspension and return to the team at some juncture.

"Look, that’s possible," Gulati said. "We hope that’s not the case. We hope she’s making progress and joins the team. That’s certainly the goal, hers and ours."