U.S. Soccer’s president can envision a World Cup without Hope Solo

Since last summer, Hope Solo has been arrested, broke the all-time United States’ shutout record, and saw the assault charges against her dropped – a roller-coaster of headlines that’s kept the women’s national team star in the spotlight. Last week, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was back in the headlines, for the wrong reasons. Solo, along with her husband, ex-NFL player Jerramy Stevens, had another run-in with police. Stevens was arrested for driving under the influence at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles. Solo was not arrested, but police reports indicated that she was “acting belligerent” during the stop. We later learned the vehicle was property of U.S. Soccer.

As a result — or perhaps the cumulative effect of her actions, or simply as a reaction to public pressure — U.S. Soccer announced Solo would be suspended from national team duty for the next 30 days. With the ban came the assumption that Solo would be cleared in time to regain her place in the team and resume her position as the number one goalkeeper. Today, however, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati put that assumption in doubt, by saying “Sure,” when asked if he could conceive a scenario in which Hope Solo would be left off the World Cup team.

“We’ve asked her to do a number of things, and she’s going to have to do those things and make progress in those areas. That’s possible. We hope that’s not the case. We hope she’s making progress and joins the team. That’s certainly the goal — hers and ours.”

As to whether his conversations with Solo lead to his belief that the she was suffering from some sort of alchohol problem, Gulati would only add “Neither one of us denied or confirmed that. Hope has been given time to deal with some issues … and there are a number of things she is being asked to do.”

Solo’s current suspension means she will miss friendly matches against France and England in early February, but the U.S. is also scheduled to play in the Algarve Cup in early March. Given the ambiguity of Gulati’s comments, it is difficult to determine if her time away will extend beyond the next two matches.