Hope Solo is not mincing words when it comes to the US women’s head soccer coach Jill Ellis.
In a discussion on the BBC podcast “Football Daily,” the legendary US goalkeeper was blunt in her criticism of Ellis, saying she lacked “leadership quality” and that she wasn’t tough enough on her players.
Solo’s comments come just days before the US women’s team is set for its first World Cup match against Thailand.
“She’s not the leader I wish her to be,” Solo told BBC of Ellis. “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 US team is superb.”
The US women’s team is currently ranked No. 1 in the world, and won the 2015 World Cup under Ellis’ leadership.
But Solo said that the US team’s stellar winning record has more to do with the quality of its players than the strength of its coaches.
“We have a winning tradition, and it doesn’t matter oftentimes who’s coaching us because we’ll find a way to win,” she said.
Solo said on the show that Ellis stopped showing the team footage of its mistakes during the 2016 Olympics because didn’t want to mess with players’ confidence.
“She didn’t want us to see our mistakes,” Solo said. “She wanted to brush them under the carpet and she wanted to just really stroke the egos of players.”
“We’re all professionals. We can handle it,” Solo added.
The former goalkeeper contrasted Ellis to Phil Neville, head coach of the English women’s team, saying that she liked that he was direct and honest with his players.
“He didn’t go into it thinking that, ‘Oh, these women are emotional’ or ‘Oh, you can’t be as direct with them,’” she said.
“I like to see somebody who pushes us to be better players, to be better people, to be a better team and to really lead us into that final,” she added.
In 2016, the United States Soccer Federation suspended Solo for six months and terminated her national contract after she described Swedish players as “a bunch of cowards” following the US defeat to Sweden at the Rio Olympics.
It’s unlikely we’ll be seeing Solo on the field again. She told the BBC that she wouldn’t come back to the national team even if asked.
“Those days are long gone,” she said.