The former coach of the U.S. women’s national soccer team says he didn’t shove goalkeeper Hope Solo at the meeting when she was benched before the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup.
Greg Ryan said Wednesday that the allegation made in the Richland native's book is “completely false.”
Hope describes the meeting with Ryan in great detail in the newly released Solo: A Memoir of Hope. She said Ryan told her he had the support of veterans Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach in his decision to go with Briana Scurry, even though Solo had started every game in the tournament up to that point.
Solo writes that near the end of the meeting: “I had nothing left to say so I stood up to leave. Greg leaned over and pushed me back down on the couch. Hard.”
According to Solo, Ryan then swore at her and told her she couldn’t leave until he said she could.
“I was stunned that he had touched me,” Solo wrote.
Ryan, now the coach of the University of Michigan women’s soccer team, released a statement through the school.
“This allegation is completely false,” he said. “I did not shove or push Hope as I’ve been accused in her book. I would have been terminated immediately by USA Soccer had this allegation been true. I have openly discussed the contents of the meeting and this is the first time that this accusation has been brought to light.
“Hope was disappointed that I benched her for the semifinals but it was the right move for the team. It was discussed with team leaders and they stood by my decision. It’s in the past and I’ve moved on. I’m focused on the upcoming Michigan soccer season.”
With Scurry in goal, the U.S. lost to Brazil 4-0. After the game, Solo publicly criticized the decision to start Scurry and was ostracized by her teammates. The Americans eventually finished third, and Solo was not allowed to fly home with the rest of the team from China.
Ryan was dismissed by U.S. Soccer later that year. New coach Pia Sundhage mended fences between Solo and the rest of the team, and the goalkeeper anchored the Americans to gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Her diving save in the final minutes preserved the 2-1 victory over Japan in last week's gold-medal match at the London Games.