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Dirty Tackle

Former U.S. women’s coach denies Hope Solo’s claim that he shoved her in 2007

Dirty Tackle

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Former U.S. women's team coach Greg Ryan with Hope Solo in 2007. (AP)

Hope Solo has returned home after winning her second Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. women's national team, but claims made about the 2007 World Cup fallout in her well-timed new book "Solo: A Memoir of Hope" are diverting attention from her Olympic success. And now former U.S. coach Greg Ryan is denying an allegation Solo makes in the book that he shoved her during a heated meeting where Ryan told her she wouldn't be playing in the team's semifinal against Brazil at that World Cup. The U.S. went on to lose 4-0 with veteran Brianna Scurry in goal. Solo drew sharp criticism from teammates and fans for going on live television after the match and saying,"It was the wrong decision, and I think anyone who knows anything about the game of soccer knows that."

Here's the passage from Solo's book that makes the claim against Ryan (via Business Insider):

"We were both silent. I had nothing left to say so I stood up to leave. Greg leaned over and pushed me back down on the couch. Hard. 'You f***ing leave when I say you can leave,' he said."

Ryan, who became the head coach of the University of Michigan women's team in 2008 after his contract with the U.S. expired, was quick to refute this version of events. From Fox Soccer:

"This allegation is completely false," Ryan said in a prepared statement released to the media. "I did not shove or push Hope as I've been accused in her book. I would have been terminated immediately by US Soccer had this allegation been true. I have openly discussed the contents of the meeting and this is the first time that this accusation has been brought to light."

A coach physically assaulting one of his players is obviously a serious accusation and it is curious that Solo wouldn't bring this to the attention of the U.S. Soccer Federation at the time, rather than waiting five years to publish it in a book. Solo does write that there was a witness to this incident though, and she makes it clear that she felt she didn't have many friends within the national team around that time.

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Solo's contempt for Ryan is also made clear elsewhere in the book. "If I had made a list of all the people I thought might coach the national team, Greg Ryan would probably have been dead last," she says as a way of introducing him. And in an excerpt published by ESPN, she says that teammates Abby Wambach and current captain Christie Rampone were among the "older players" who made her apologize to Scurry in front of the whole team -- an apology that her teammates deemed "insincere" before suspending her from all team activities.

It's probably best that this book was released after the U.S. won gold in London rather than before.

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