Hope Solo Calls Swedish Soccer Team 'Cowards' After U.S. Loses in Rio, Mia Hamm 'Gutted'
By Jennifer Drysdale
The U.S. women's soccer team has spoken after suffering a shocking loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics, the earliest exit for America's national team in any major tournament -- and they're not happy.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo was the first to comment on her team's devastating elimination, calling the Swedish team "a bunch of cowards," and insisting "the best team did not win."
"I thought that we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I'm very proud of this team," Solo said after the game via sports writer Grant Wahl. "But I also think we played a bunch of cowards."
"Sweden dropped off. They didn't want to open play. They didn't want to pass the ball. They didn't want to play great soccer," she continued. "I don't think they're going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They're moving on, and we're going home."
"The best team did not win today," she added. "I strongly believe that. I think you saw American heart. You saw us give everything we had today."
Team USA -- gold medalists at 2012's London Olympics -- lost by a score of 4-3 after a tense penalty shootout after overtime ended with the teams tied 1-1.
Solo was clearly upset after the loss, offering another comment on the game.
"I've won and lost a lot of games in my career. And not all wins have been pretty. Sometimes it’s just finding a way to win that matters the most and tonight Sweden found a way to beat us," she explained. "Nevertheless, I am so proud of the way we played tonight, our fight, our heart, and the skill we showed. Things don’t always go the way you want them to. Such is life, and such is sport."
Solo's teammates were similarly disappointed after the upset.
"Heartbroken for the team+staff, for our fans, for my family," forward Alex Morgan said on Twitter. "Today's loss will make winning that much sweeter. Learn, grow, and never forget."
Heartbroken for the team+staff, for our fans, for my family. Today's loss will make winning that much sweeter. Learn, grow, and never forget
Team USA’s elimination follows a difficult couple of weeks for Solo in particular, who was boo'd by the Rio crowd after several controversial Instagram posts in which she joked about the Zika virus. A week before the startling loss, the two time Olympic gold medalist defended her comments, and said she was “focused” on winning.
"I did know they were booing, but it doesn't affect me," she told Sports Illustrated. "I came here to do one thing, and that's to help our team win, our country win. And I'm very focused on doing that."