Hope Solo Punished For Refusing To “Play Like A Girl”

Hope Solo has not only been suspended from the USWNT by the US Soccer Federation, but her contract terminated. Essentially her career stands publicly on the gallows cause she said an opponent had played “like cowards.”

You already know how I feel if you saw my tweets:

There is no “persistent infringement” clause in professional sports. Any argument that justifies this decision to suspend her and terminate her contract by taking her priors into account is bullshit. An athlete is judged on the severity of each individual criminal act and dealt with by their organization accordingly. See Mike Vick, Johnny Manziel, Ray Lewis, Adrian Peterson, Michael Irvin, et al.

This reeks of sexism. Our society still expects women to be good little girls. And the cognitive dissonance between strong, dominant women excelling at athletic competitions while revealing their drive, grit and anger is something we haven’t learned how to digest as a culture. We’ll allow women to be athletes, and great ones, if they are graceful (and scantily clad) swimmers or gymnastic (and besparkled) pixies. But god forbid if you play rugby or basketball and sweat and grunt.

Take Michael Phelps for example. A classic “repeat offender” of misdemeanors:

2004 – Arrested for drunk driving

2009 – Cited for public marijuana use

2014 – Arrested more drunk driving

What is Solo’s record:

2007: Insulted her USWNT teammate and fellow goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who shipped 4 goals in the World Cup semis: “There’s no doubt in the world I would have made those saves.”

2012: reported herself a victim of domestic abuse, later dropped charges

2012: insulted former teammate, and then tv analyst, Brandi Chastain “Lay off commentating about the game until you get better educated.”

2014: arrested for alleged abuse against her sister and nephew. charges originally discredited, but now reinstated pending appeal.

2016: Said Sweden played “like cowards”

So Solo has one criminal transgression, potentially by the victim in another, and runs her mouth. That’s it.

Guess what? Athletes run their mouths. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were infamous assholes. So was Ty Cobb. Richard Sherman was recently lauded (after some initial racist bullshit) for speaking his mind and publically disparaging his opponent on national TV calling a specific opponent a “sorry ass receiver.”
Terrell Owens may be the closest comparison to Solo. He was rarely in real legal trouble, but often in the headlines for odd things (OD’ing on sleeping pills in a was it/wasn’t it a suicide attempt) and running his mouth. He called one teammate with the 49ers gay in a magazine interview (saying “if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it’s a rat)”, then questioned the masculinity of another, and the blackness of another (calling him an “Uncle Tom”). His antics like stomping on the midfield logo of certain teams, and mocking specific opponents with jeering dances were seen as the colorful antics of a “diva” receiver.

Aside from the serious criminals here (Mike Vick, Ray Rice), few of these men received the public censure and discipline that Solo has received. And some have come through legitimate legal troubles embraced by public opinion (Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin).

America’s sexual double standard is grossly apparent in sports. Women are allowed to be winners as long as they are ladylike first. Solo herself noted this in her autobiography saying, “In order for the world to pay attention in 1999, a female athlete had to be a role model loved by everyone. In 2012, she doesn’t. And that may be a weird form of social progress.” It seems she was wrong. Even in 2016, a women needs to be a lady first and foremost before she can be anything.

 

Sigi Out

Oddly, heartbreakingly, finally, ill-timedly, and refreshingly, Sigi Schmid is out as the Seattle Sounders head coach.

I know my posts have been as rare as a Sounders W lately, but I got lots to say on the subject. More soon.

USMNT in the Semis!!

The USMNT played liked they gave a damn last night against Ecuador in the Copa America quarterfinals, earning only their 4th knockout win in a major tournament, ever.

It was the first time in a long time that the USMNT looked dominant. We belonged on the pitch against a quality foe. Lots to talk about and dissect. Today I leave you with this, poor spelling and all:

I'm not having second thoughts, yet.

I’m not having second thoughts, yet.

Copa America Nirvana: USMNT vs. Ecuador

Tonight in Sodo the USMNT host Ecuador in the initial game of the Copa America knockout round. And I’ll be there live for the thrilling capstone of my Seattle pack of games. As Mrs. Raving Green said shortly after Columbia fell to 2nd in Group A, “I feel like we won the Copa America lottery.” Tonight’s game is now the ticket to have.

After being wildly stoked for the Argentina game, the context of soccer in Seattle has shifted dramatically. Messi and Co. were somewhat of a disappointment on Tuesday, as Argentina handily dispatched an overwhelmed and underwhelming Bolivian side. Down 3-0 at the half, the Bolivians just bunkered. That was some pretty cynical football, to focus on not losing worse instead of trying to get one back( or, God forbid, earn a result). Of course I am jaded, as I would’ve liked to see a more open game.

The atmosphere was lackluster as well at the Argentina game. Sure, the stadium was packed to Sounders capacity at 45,000, but it was deathly quiet. The Peruvian supporters brought it the previous game with drums and a constant supporters section, and the stadium was barely a quarter full. But the USMNT in a knockout game of a major tournament in Seattle?? Tonight should be very, very different.

BOLD PREDICTION: Who saw the Stars and Stripes winning their group (especially after that ludicrous display against Columbia). Columbia totally slept on a CONCACAF foe and the Ticos made them pay (Hellz yeah Ticos! The end of the game was edge-of-the-seat-nail-biting action. Very rarely does the result of a soccer game physically affect your universe (your emotional and mental state, sure, but physically? Rarely.)). Though now I wish we’d placed second and faced Peru (the least deserving Group winner), as La Tricolor can play.

The Yanks should be fine as long as they hold steady. Losing Yedlin will hurt the attack, but could benefit the D. And our attack has been clicking lately. I am keeping my eyes, as is most everyone else in the American soccer cognoscenti, on John Brooks, who is absolutely having his coming out party. USMNT 2-1.

Now if only they’d fire Jurgen.

Bold Prediction: Lionel Messi (and Argentina) vs Bolivia

Lionel Messi and Argentina bring their talents to South of Downtown tonight in Copa America Centenario action.

The excitement in Soccer City, USA is palpable. Hell, I don’t even know if Messi will log serious minutes tonight, it’s rumored he’ll play, but possibly not start, but Argentina is more than Messi. They are the #1 team in the world right now and playing like it.

My wife and I bought the full 3-match pack for Seattle’s tournament slate with Messi in mind. Very rarely do you get a chance to see such an athlete perform live. David Foster Wallace said, “To be a top athlete, performing, is to be that exquisite hybrid of animal and angel that we average unbeautiful watchers have such a hard time seeing in ourselves.” I’ve seen some live games from “the greats” (Abby Wambach, Iverson, Dempsey, Larry Fitzgerald, Cliff Lee) and I’ve seen some angelic performances that will go in no record books (Yohance Humphrey for Chugiak High School). I am hoping that even a limited Messi can etch a mark on my list. I very much want to be able to say, “I saw him when…”

Bold Prediction: My money is on Messi starting, but coming off once the game is clearly in hand, maybe by halftime. He displayed little rust with his hatter against Panama, but Messi still needs to round into 90 minutes fitness. And Argentina still wants to secure pole position in Group D, so we’ll most definitely see Messi tonight.

Sadly, Argentina will be without another star, as Angel Di Maria will probably not play. He picked up an abductor strain. La Albiceleste clearly don’t need him to dispatch the 82nd ranked team in the world.

Argentina 3-0. No Di Maria and a limited Messi keep this game from being too lopsided, but I’m taking the chalk.

Bold Prediction: USMNT vs Paraguay

The USMNT faces Paraguay (and Seattle Sounders DP Nelson Valdez) today in a Copa America Centenario action.

Despite Messi’s brilliance and the drama and controversy between Chile and Bolivia yesterday, I’ll keep those post short and get straight to the bold prediction.

Bold Prediction: Jurgen’s squad usually underwhelms, but after thrashing a quality Costa Rican side, the Yanks hope to be marching into the knockout round. Both teams are playing for their Copa lives today and Paraguay is no slouch. Luckily we just need a result, while Paraguay needs all three points.

If Jurgen starts the same lineup three games in a row (continuity? go figure!), I see a hungry home team punching their ticket through. If he gets too cute, things could get interesting and maybe we’ll all get our bittersweet wish of seeing Jurgen sent packing. I just don’t see it today: USMNT 1-1.

Copa America Centenario: Blogging Again

Copa America Centenario is in full swing. And Raving Green has been remiss in not feeding your soccer jones.

I’ve been a bad blogger lately. As a lifelong sports fans, and recent soccer convert, this blog is a passion project of mine. For the past 2 years, I had time and energy to focus on the site. This year life got in the way in the form of lots of good damn news for your humble author. Aside from a promotion at the rent-paying gig, the wife and I are remodeling the basement ourselves, and we’re expecting our first child later this summer! So yeah, time is consumed and the blog has fallen by the wayside. My soccer passion has not however.

Mrs. Raving Green and I were at the stadium last weekend for Haiti – Peru. We both have a soft sport in our heart for La Blanquirroja. We got engaged in Peru (in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, to be exact. We were both recovering from different illnesses: food poisoning and altitude sickness. Despite the various bodily fluids, it was very romantic), on a trip to attend a friend’s wedding in Lima. Saturday’s game was typical of the Copa’s slow start, as Peru could only manage one goal (albeit a beautiful header) against the most overmatched side at the tournament.

Though the quality may have been lacking, the event was great for soccer in Cascadia. The sun was shining, the stadium was looking her best (the turf, especially), and Seattle continued to build its reputation as a quality destination for international soccer. Which is really (aside from seeing Messi, and potentially James) the super objective of any Seattle soccer fan’s goal for the Copa. If we can host the hell out of our three games, US Soccer will keep awarding quality international fixtures to the Emerald City.

I know this post is late to the Copa party, as Chile-Bolivia is about to kickoff and wrap up the second week of play. But I should have some time in the near future to knock out some writing and get you your soccer fix. I can’t promise six posts a week like before, but keep checking in and I’ll keep writing.

Thanks for reading, it’s good to be back.

Seattle Sounders and Overcoming the Fickle Finger of Fate

The Seattle Sounders are on a roll ba-bay! In the last three games, we’ve gotten three straight results and 7 points for a mini-run of 2.33 ppg.

Be all pessimistic and say “small sample size” but that is a huge flip from out previous 0.00 ppg. And I’d argue we still haven’t found equilibrium. The trick, though, is finding where the Sounders’ fate will eventually settle.

No one outside the 503 area code really believes the Sounders are a below-the-red-line 1 ppg club, but do we dare believe we are a 2.33 ppg juggernaut?

The worst Sounders team in the MLS era was the 1.56 ppg squad from the inaugural season. The best was the Supporters’ Shield winning 2014 side with 1.88 ppg. The 2016 Sounders season probably lies somewhere between those extremes. The next 7 months will be a seismic needle of ups and downs testing the quality of these Sounders.

The key to surviving the marathon MLS season is: health, depth, and focus.

In 2014 we were lucky to enjoy incredible health throughout the year, as our starters all played significant minutes. When we did have to dip into the 18, we had serious depth with names such as Kenny Cooper, Lamar Neagle, and Chad Barrett fighting for minutes up top and, a still effective Pineda, Pappa and Rose all fighting their way into the 11 in the midfield. Hell, we even had Hahnemann behind Frei.

And of course that team had focus. They found it in the 4-4 draw early in Portland. We quickly gelled as a team that would win barnburners. We were an attacking team that shoved the ball down the opposition’s throat with consistent possession and elaborate and deadly passing sequences. That attack took us all the way to the precipice of the MLS Cup.

2015 we lacked both health and depth as the Dog Days of Summer clearly showed (Remember the lineup from that Philly game? sheesh). And to further complicate matters, our focus changed midseason. Ozzie’s injury and the decline of Pineda combined with the unavailability of many starters to force the team to change personnel and identities. By the end of the season Valdez and Ivanschitz were still trying to figure out their roles. Unfortunately the 2015 Seattle Sounders ended a work in progress.

In 2016, we haven’t started great. Our health has been unlucky (or unsurprising when so many starters are on the wrong side of 30) as we’re still without Roman Torres, and Friberg, Evans and Valdez have been in and out of the training room. Our depth is a question mark only because of the recent youth movement. We still don’t know how much Anderson, Roldan, Kovar, and Remick can really contribute in the 11 (though early returns have been very promising).

Lastly, the 2016 Sounders need to find their focus. Obafemi Martins’s sudden departure is most to blame. This has really thrown Sigi back into the workshop as he tries to find a way to transition from a nOba, Valdez, Clint front 3. We’ve suffered the fits and starts and only just witnessed success with the most recent incarnation of the lineup. Deploying Ivanschitz as a right wing and Morris playing as a center forward created Seattle’s most potent attack of the season.

How this lineup eventually settles, (what DP finally signs) and whether the kids are all right will determine where the Sounders 2016 fortune falls.

Bold Prediction: Seattle Sounders Vs. Philadelphia Union

The Seattle Sounders square off at home against the Philadelphia Union tonight in Sodo.

Seattle vs. Philly is always an interesting game for me. I have a soft spot for the Union, but it has nothing to do with their city. They are, along with Columbus and Real Salt Lake, one of the three teams in MLS I feel passive affection for.

Columbus is a joy to watch. Gregg Berhalter coaches the hell out of that team and Higuain is a magician. They play the pretty, attacking football that I love.

RSL, though it is hard to feel anything other than apathy or anger for a Western Conference foe, deserves respect. And hell, not even grudging respect. I openly respect that team, and if you stood in the rain for hours of a scoreless epic to finally see Mario Martinez blast in a one-timer past the indomitable Nick Rimando… Respect.

Philly I just kinda feel sorry for. Their supporters care. They fill the stadium and the team never, ever gives them anything to be proud of. Then somehow they dumbed their way to the USOC Finals two years in a row, falling to us and then SKC in heartbreaking-extra-time-fashion (SKC on penalties!). That’s gotta be rough.

At least this season, and god knows it’s still early, their fans have something to cheer for. That’s a nice change for the denizens of the Delaware.

But this game is about the Sounders.

Last week’s win was the best draw since the 4-4 classic in Portland. It is a draw that can right a listing season. The 0-3 start was bad, but 1-4 would’ve been much worse. At 1-3-1, and with a home match against the Eastern Conference, the Sounders have a chance to, if not build momentum, at least attain an equilibrium.

We all knew we fell on the very harsh side of those first three games. Did we “deserve” a result a Houston? Probably not, but we also didn’t deserve 0 points from our first three. This is merely regression to the mean.

The Sounders are still figuring things out: where and when to start Ivanschitz and Morris and Herc and Anderson. I expect more tinkering today. I don’t know if Herc is 90 minutes fit, or if it is smart to start Anderson just yet, but those two players are key to the Sounders having a facsimile of an attack.

BOLD PREDICTION: Valdez could return today, as could Friberg. This creates good competition for selection. I don’t think Sigi shakes up the starting 11 too much, but he’s got his hand on the trigger to get Herc and Anderson in if need be.

Philly is not a good road team, they lost to Chicago in Chicago. But the Union don’t allow too many goals (thanks to Andre Blake). Despite a solid 7 goals in 5 games, Philly mostly wins tense affairs (outside their 3-0 whupping of New England), with only four goals in their other four games.

I see a close, well-contest game tonight. I am giving Seattle home field advantage: Sounders 1-0, but on a set piece.

Seattle Sounders vs. Montreal Impact Matchday

The Seattle Sounders will lose their next four games, or so I dreamed last night.

It was a real bummer of a dream, a nightmare in fact. I often don’t remember my dreams, so when I do I imagine them especially prescient. I saw Seattle dropping the next four games and going into their next bye at 0-7. But… they Sounders don’t have a bye 5 weeks from now, so it was a dream, right?

Bold Prediction: I have been trying to be all objective with these bold predictions and guessing at draws and losses. Screw that. The Sounders win 3-0!!

Honestly, I don’t know a dang thing about the Montreal Impact (and clearly I’ve been swamped on the home front and not blogging/researching as much I’d like), so my above prediction is just ignorant homerism.

*UPDATE*

I just checked the lineups and saw Remick and Kovar are starting… making my prediction even more… ambitious. C’mon

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