This Saturday, eight candidates for the presidency of U.S. Soccer will gather in Philadelphia for a forum. One of them has won a World Cup. One of them has won two Olympic gold medals. One of them has 200 caps as a national team member. One of them is among the most decorated soccer players America has ever produced. All of those descriptors belong to the same candidate, and that candidate, in the eyes of most, is the only candidate without any chance at winning the presidency.
That candidate is Hope Solo. The reasons for dismissing the former U.S. goalkeeper from contention are well-known. She was arrested (but never convicted) in 2014 for assaulting two family members. She was suspended from the national team for 30 days when her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, was pulled over for drunk driving in a borrowed team van. Finally, she was fired from the national team in 2016 for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles” after calling Swedish players “a bunch of cowards” after a loss in the Olympics. Despite all this, there is a case for her candidacy. Allegations of violence in the home are always to be taken seriously, but whether you like her or not – whether you blame her or not – the good things Solo has done have been completely overshadowed. She has been a leader in the fight for women’s equal pay, which enlisted the support of members of the U.S. Senate. She has been heavily involved in charity work in the U.S. and elsewhere. And she has leadership skills. A former NASA astronaut, Ron Garan, wrote her a letter of recommendation that calls her “among the very best [leaders] I’ve ever met”. Solo is not in the backslapping, old-boy crowd. She is, in some ways, not in any crowd. That’s clear when she talks about her goals: “I want complete transparency. The women [national team] endlessly tried to disclose the amount of money provided to the Federation. The Federation refused to so even when senators asked. There’s something going on there. There’s a reason why they’re not being transparent. Show people where the money is going. Then all decide where to put the money”. U.S. Soccer might do well to have someone who will speak truth to power. The women’s side won the 2015 World Cup, in some measure, because Carli Lloyd spoke up during the middle of the tournament and coach Jill Ellis made a key lineup change. The men’s side, meanwhile, is sitting home from the World Cup this summer in large part because of complacency and inertia. There is a talent gap, a diversity gap, and a grit gap. Solo says she can help fix all three.
It’s official: Bastian Schweinsteiger will be back in Chicago in 2018. The Chicago Fire announced that they have re-signed the German midfielder to a Designated Player contract for the 2018 season. The 33-year-old made 24 MLS regular season appearances, scoring three goals and six assists, and one MLS Cup Playoffs appearance in 2017 for the Fire, the club he joined on March 21 from Manchester United. The World Cup winner helped revitalize the Fire last season, as they qualified for the postseason for the first time in five years and finished in third place in the Eastern Conference. Schweinsteiger was also an MLS All-Star in 2017 and captained the side vs. Real Madrid. Schweinsteiger said: “I am very happy to re-sign with the Chicago Fire, and to continue what we started in 2017. Last year was a special moment for my career, but it felt incomplete without a trophy. But I am sure we can create another memorable season with the support of our great fans. I love this city, this sport, and winning, so I look forward to another season with the Fire as we progress to hopefully another level of success”. The 2014 World Cup winner, who amassed 121 caps with Germany, arrived in MLS in 2017 after 13 years at German powerhouse Bayern Munich (Dec. 2002 through July 2015) and just under two seasons at legendary English side Manchester United (July 2015 through March 2017).
LAFC have bolstered their midfield with the addition of Calum Mallace. The 28-year-old divided the 2017 season between the Montreal Impact, where he made seven appearances in MLS regular season play, and the Seattle Sounders, where he was traded midseason. Since starting his pro career in 2012 with the Impact, he’s made 80 MLS regular season appearances and six MLS Cup Playoffs appearances, scoring one goal and six assists from a holding midfield position. LAFC exec stated: “Calum is a versatile midfielder with valuable experience in the league. He has the tools to be a successful contributor to LAFC”. Mallace’s signing brings the inaugural LAFC roster to 12 players, ahead of Friday’s 2018 MLS SuperDraft , where the expansion team currently holds the No. 1 overall pick.