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By Kate Fagan
What to do about Hope Solo?
That's a question nobody is asking yet — not publicly, anyway.
On Jan. 1, Tom Sermanni takes over as coach of the US women's national soccer team, a change that ensures that fresh eyes are about to evaluate every player on the roster, including the one who currently starts at goalkeeper: Solo.
To some people, this coaching change feels like switching the hood ornament on a luxury vehicle. The engine remains the same, doesn't it? We're talking about a team with significant momentum, only a few months removed from winning Olympic gold in London. The squad, which features several marketable women, is in the middle of a Fan Tribute Tour. For the next month, everything is smiles, high fives and no-pressure matches. This is the happy-go-lucky portion of the team's schedule, as "Fan Tribute Tour" is synonymous, of course, with "victory tour."
But we are still two-and-a-half years removed from the team's next marquee event: the 2015 Women's World Cup. And anyone who thinks Sermanni won't be building his own engine, to match his brand of soccer, is kidding herself. Just as Pia Sundhage, the team's former coach, put her own stamp on things when she took over in 2007, Sermanni will have a new take on the roster, on what works and what doesn't, on who fits and who doesn't.
More specifically, he will need to decide whether Solo, who will be 34 years old in the summer of 2015, is still worth the occasional PR headache or if she's a case of diminished returns.