For U.S. Soccer, a deal with Hope was a deal with the devil

Last night, U.S. Soccer — which oversees both the men’s and women’s national teams in international tournaments — terminated the contract of its most successful goaltender of either gender over ugly comments she made about Sweden at the recently concluded Rio Olympics.

The women’s team, a favorite to win the gold medal, left Rio blingless when Sweden eliminated them in the quarterfinal round on penalty kicks. Solo, an admitted sore loser, said the following after the loss: “We lost to a bunch of cowards.”

That stings. If it weren’t for swimmer Ryan Lochte, she’d probably be scorched on the international stage for being everything that’s wrong with America. Elitist. Priggish. Entitled. If this bratty little outburst were an isolated incident, though, it probably doesn’t rise to the level of dismissal from the team.

Only it’s not a solo incident. It’s one of many Solo incidents over an international career than has spanned at least 13 years. This leads me to an inevitable conclusion, which we’ll get to in a moment.

This disciplinary action is at least her third suspension by U.S. Soccer. She was suspended in 2007 for shredding American goalie Briana Scurry after the U.S. lost 4-0 to Brazil: “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves,” Solo said. “And the fact of the matter is, it’s not 2004 anymore. … It’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past. It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold-medal game in the Olympics three years ago.”

Solo continued burying teammates in her autobiography, “A Memoir of Hope,” which I’m guessing is even cheaper than my novel (cheap plug. You can find it on Amazon).

She was arrested in 2012 in a domestic violence case on the eve of her wedding to former NFL testicle-target Jerramy Stevens. We still don’t know who struck who, but it apparently wasn’t just soon-to-be man and wife allegedly getting swings in. It included her own relatives.

Solo wasn’t suspended for that, but she was for letting her husband drive the team van while it was training in Manhattan Beach for the 2015 World Cup. Stevens, whose rap sheet exceeds his accomplishments in the NFL, drove the van with a blood-alcohol content allegedly at four times the legal limit. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She was suspended for 30 days, which was just short enough for her to play in the World Cup — when the federation was tweeting about her brilliance leading the team to the world title.

Even before the Olympics began, she was making an ass of herself with tweets about the Zika virus. To be honest, I think it’s funny… if you back it up by winning.

Only she didn’t win. And that’s the key to this entire termination.

U.S. Soccer willingly looked the other way so long as she was in net during her physical prime. Only now she’s 35. By the time the next World Cup rolls around, she’ll be pushing 40. In other words, to paraphrase Hope Solo: it’s not 2007 anymore. … It’s 2016, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past.

This is why her contract was terminated. U.S. Soccer is cutting bait to save some money — and pretend to save face.

Know this: Solo has representatives that will claim she is being held to a different standard based on her gender. But declining athletic results are as gender neutral as it comes. Father and Mother Time always wins.

For all those years, U.S. Soccer has been telling us to look the other way, that her athletic accomplishments are what we should be admiring about Hope Solo. That golly, doesn’t she look ripped in ESPN magazine’s annual “The Body Issue”? And hey, why not buy more women’s soccer team merchandise on our website?

Only it’s not patriotic, U.S. Soccer, for me to glorify a fraud.

And I don’t just mean Hope Solo. I mean U.S. Soccer at its core.

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