Noted women's soccer commentator Waylon Jennings once said "Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill." The United States better hope that's true. Sure, we've all made jokes about comparing this team to the 99 squad, and having to clarify whether we mean BC or AD. But as Brian Seavey points out, this team really is older than God's grandfather. Twenty-nine and a half! Does the replica kit come with an onion on the belt?
As far as the treachery is concerned, well, looks like that's not going to help the US this time around. Sure, it's easy for someone to sit on their ass and say "Gee, Hope Solo needs help." It's easy, because it's true. We now have a scenario where either Solo is a serial fabulist, she is surrounded by those only interested in exploiting her, or (and here's where I'm pushing in my chips) a lot of both.
Over the weekend Jill Ellis, Solo's roommate Carli Lloyd, and everyone connected to the program said they couldn't possibly care less about Solo as a person as long as she functioned at or above the level of her backup. They didn't say that in so many words, but it's easy to read between the lines when the lines in question have been crossed so often.
Hope Solo stole a USSF van and handed the keys to her drunk husband. If the team were going to make a change, they probably should have done so then. They decided it was too late. They're not going to mess with a winning formula (HEAVY IRONY) just because Hope Solo's sister had her feelings hurt and/or has a famous nutcase blackening her name. Dance with the one that brung ya, even if who brung ya is now picking a fight with the cops.
That wasn't even the most depressing USWNT misencounter with sisterhood of this tournament. ESPN magazine (I'm not calling it "ESPN The Magazine; I am not Starfire from Teen Titans Go) gave the world a profile of Alex Morgan. Spoiler alert: she's the Danica Patrick of the USWNT, except she wins things once in a while.
Which, fine. Life is short, an athlete's life is shorter. Her ACL could explode, she could get hit by a peach truck, Abby Wambach might be out of the room when Hope Solo finally decides to kill her teammates in alphabetical order. Get those dollar bills.
Here was the troubling bit, at least to me:
Then there was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, or rather its aftermath. For as much as Morgan says it built self-esteem, posing in a bikini garnered her attention, and not always the positive sort. In addition to Twitter stalkers (one of whom threatened to kill her, which led to her hiring security), there are also the trolls, some of whose comments were so cutting, her sister says, that Morgan pondered getting breast implants. "People were saying she looked like a 13-year-old boy," Jeri [Alex's sister] says. "People on the Internet can be really mean."
How screwed up a society are we when Alex Goddamned Morgan has body issues? Not just body issues, but bring your career to a screeching halt body issues? Unless they fill those things with Super-Soldier Serum instead of silicone, I'm really not seeing how a couple of airbags are gonna help with the actual soccering.
Which presumably is how she was eventually talked out of it, but why in the name of Germaine Greer was that even a question? Alex Morgan with breast implants would be like Clint Dempsey taking Botox. (Because he wouldn't be able to make those awesome expressions during games. I don't know why I felt the need to explain this joke. But I'm glad I did. Good decision on my part.)
Maybe it's sexist, or at least patronizing, to expect female professional athletes to fit into the "role model" box to begin with. Or maybe the expectations for female pro role models are just ridiculously different from men. Hope's a problematic figure, sure. But she's never bitten anyone, or called anyone a racist slur, or recorded a bunch of crappy rap songs.
And I'm playing the game too, by focusing on Morgan and Solo instead of any of the less problematic players America has to offer. Unfortunately, Morgan and Solo are, like, super-talented, and if the US overcomes their arch-enemy Jill Ellis and wins the World Cup, they will be a big part of it.
Or maybe we've just picked the wrong role models to latch on to. It barely qualifies as anecdotal, but the most popular player among USWNT fans I've spoken to since moving to the heartland? Megan Rapinoe.
By the way, what's this silliness about the US having something to avenge? The Olympics happened. They beat Japan. Done. Dusted.
I have no idea who's going to win, although how irritating will it be if Germany is the first simultaneous world champion?