Hope Solo Rips U.S. Coach Jill Ellis Before Team Opens Women's World Cup

The former goalkeeper said Ellis "is not the leader I wish her to be."

Former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has gone from stopping shots to taking them ― at her former coach.

As the U.S. team prepared for its first match against Thailand in the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, Solo told the BBC over the weekend that coach Jill Ellis “cracks under the pressure.”

“She’s not the leader I wish her to be,” Solo said. “She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But oftentimes that doesn’t matter because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb.”

Solo agreed with the suggestion that the team won in spite of Ellis.

“It doesn’t matter oftentimes who is coaching us because we will find a way to win, and that is rich in our history of the game,” she said. “The United States, they know how to win and they know how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is.”

Jill Ellis and Hope Solo embrace in happier times -- right after the U.S. won the 2015 World Cup.
Jill Ellis and Hope Solo embrace in happier times -- right after the U.S. won the 2015 World Cup.
Stuart Franklin - FIFA via Getty Images

In response to Solo’s remarks, Ellis told reporters in France on Monday: “Comments are comments. Listen, I feel over the past five years I’ve made a lot of different decisions and I have processes to make those decisions and own those processes. And at this point, the focus is about this group of players that are here and now.”

Solo, 37, played under Ellis when the team won the 2015 World Cup, a feat for which Ellis was named FIFA coach of the year. Then the squad got eliminated by Sweden at the 2016 Olympics, prompting Solo to call the Swedes “cowards.” Solo was suspended from the American squad for the comment and her contract was later terminated, suggesting there might be some lingering bitterness.

Her criticism of Ellis kept coming during the BBC discussion.

This article has been updated to include Ellis’ response.

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