Soccer

Soccer

Hope Solo doesn't have much confidence in Jill Ellis. 

The outspoken former United States Women's National Team goalkeeper blasted Ellis days before the team's opener at the 2019 World Cup in France, arguing that a second straight title won't have anything to do with the head coach. 

"Jill is not the leader I wish her to be," Solo told BBC 5 Live Sport (H/T CBS Sports). "She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But often that doesn't matter because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb. It doesn't matter who is coaching us because we will find a way to win. The United States knows how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is."

In a co-written BBC Sport column published Friday, Solo said Ellis would not show players their mistakes "because she thinks it might affect their confidence."

"She told me time and again she didn't want to hurt anybody's confidence, so we won't look at goals and we won't look at defensive mistakes," Solo said. 

This is not the first time Solo has criticized Ellis since the most-capped keeper in the USWNT's history was suspended from the national team and her contract was terminated in 2016. Two years ago, Solo called Ellis a "poor leader and bad tactician" in an interview with "60 Minutes Sports." Solo's national team suspension stemmed from her controversial comments at the Rio Olympics, when she referred to Sweden's national team as "a bunch of cowards" after the Swedes advanced on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the tournament. 

 

Solo ultimately settled a grievance with U.S. Soccer in September 2017, but said a year ago she would not return to the national team until the federation started "abiding by federal law," in reference to pay disparities between the men's and women's teams. She has not played professionally since the Rio Olympics, saying she doesn't want to play for the U.S. Soccer-owned NWSL.

Solo filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the federation in August, and her former teammates did the same in March. A panel ruled this week that the lawsuits won't be combined, according to Bloomberg Law. 

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Ellis took over the USWNT's head coach on a permanent basis in May 2014, and Solo was the undisputed No. 1 for most of that time. She was suspended for a month in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup, but allowed just three goals in seven games en route to the United States' first World Cup title since 1999. 

The Ellis-led squad -- sans Solo -- will begin its title defense on June 11 against Thailand in Reims, France.