Greg Ryan and Hope Solo

Let’s put this 2007 Women’s World Cup issue into context. There is no bigger prize in that profession than being a world cup champion. Many of these players get one or two chances in their career to participate in a World Cup because it happens only once every 4 years. He managed a team that was unbeaten in its last 51 games (a majority of which were goaltended by his first choice keeper: Hope Solo). She had gone 300 minutes without allowing a goal, so what does Ryan do? He does THIS.

In most sports, the job of the manager/head coach is the following:
1) Put the best squad out on the field that you can
2) Remove doubt/distractions from the players’ minds
3) Through tactics and training, put your players in the best possible situation to succeed.
Coach Ryan failed the US National team in all 3 phases of his job.
1) Solo was the first choice keeper. If she wasn’t injured, she should have played.
2) By announcing that Scurry would play the night before the game, the players on the US side were flustered, questioning what the coach was doing.
This didn’t allow them to focus their undivided attention on the task at hand.
3) You can’t reasonably expect any keeper, after not having played in 3 months, to be at his/her best. He put Scurry in an untenable position in the most dire situation he could have. His tactics unsettled the back 4, and the 51 game unbeaten streak ended. He also gave the Brazilian team bulletin board material with his boneheaded comments HERE.
THIS is why he should be fired immediately. He only has 3 main things to do in his job and he failed at all 3.

It was HIS decision and tactics that caused an environment where THIS:
could happen. He created a situation where players were backbiting each other, and didn’t have it within himself to take charge of the situation. He then again failed his team by not putting the best 11 out on the field for the 3rd place fixture, by having Scurry out there again only after consulting with ‘team leaders’. If these ‘leaders’ were ACTUAL leaders, they would have asked him what the hell he was doing in the first place dropping a keeper that hasn’t been beaten in at least 35 games during the biggest game of their lives up until that point. Why anyone would consult Kristine Lilly is beyond me… she’s 36, has ZERO playing future with the team, but hey, let’s follow the advice of someone who isn’t going to be here in a week! Some on the US team have also reportedly said: “They wouldn’t want Solo in goal behind them if they were on the field.” Here’s the deal: Be very happy that you don’t live in Columbia where people take the game so seriously that it cost Andres Escobar his life. What needs to happen is this, in order:
1) Greg Ryan should be fired as manager immediately (if you want to be sporting, let him fly back on the team flight before firing him).

2) Any ‘Team Leaders’ that were consulted before the 3rd place game v. Norway should be banned from the team. These ‘leaders’ aren’t interested in playing the best possible game they can. They don’t want the top personnel out with them, they are only interested in keeping whatever playing time, political clout or self importance they think they have.
3) Hope Solo should be reinstated to first choice goalkeeper immediately (not because of what happened to her, but because she is the best person for that job).

To read what ESPN analyst Jen Cheng thinks, click HERE and HERE.
Brandy Chastain rips the US Soccer organization HERE.

The overcoaching is reminiscent of what happened to Avery Johnson, coach of the 67-15 Dallas Mavericks in the last NBA Postseason. He had his starters in place, he had his rotation in place, and everyone knew their roles for the last 40 games. As soon as the playoffs started against the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors, he changed his starting lineup!! Do you know what this says, boys and girls? The coach is telling his players that the way they played all year isn’t good enough to beat the team facing them now. Nevermind that we had the 4th best regular season in the HISTORY of the NBA (or in Greg Ryan’s case, hadn’t lost in 51 games), we need to make these changes or we won’t win. That absolutely rattles players faster than anything else you can do. You saw it with Dirk Nowitski (the NBA MVP) in that series, and you saw it with the US National Women’s team in that Brazil game.

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