Did Hope Solo witness Megan Rapinoe's 'almost bullying' teammates to kneel? Timeline doesn't line up

Live Update: Did Hope Solo witness Megan Rapinoe’s ‘almost bullying’ teammates to kneel? Timeline doesn’t line up

Former U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo gained attention, again, when she declared on a podcast interview she had observed star forward Megan Rapinoe “almost bullying” her teammates into kneeling while the national anthem was played prior to games.

This is what Solo said during a podcast interview with Goal.com on its “All of Us” program:

“I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way. But it’s our right as Americans to do it whatever way we’re comfortable with and I think that’s really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes. There’s a lot of pressure and ultimately at the end of the day our number one focus should and has always been to win first.”

MORE: Not the first time that Solo has been critical of Rapinoe

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That “bullying” comment was seized upon Monday by Rapinoe’s many critics from the far right, and it also was picked up by mainstream media outlets such as Newsweek. Solo spoke with the air of great authority on the concept of Rapinoe as the “almost bully” and claimed to have been an eyewitness to such conduct.

All of which begs the question: When and how, then, did Solo observe Rapinoe “almost bullying” her teammates into kneeling for the anthem?

On Aug. 24, 2016, after the United States had fallen to Sweden in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics and goalkeeper Hope Solo had responded to that result by publicly describing the winning team as “a bunch of cowards”, she was suspended for six months by U.S. Soccer and had her contract with the women’s national team terminated.

Three days later, the Seattle Reign announced Solo had chosen to take personal leave from the NWSL team. She never played another game for the Reign or the USWNT.

So when the Reign prepared for a Sept. 4 league game against the Chicago Red Stars and Seattle forward Megan Rapinoe chose to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest, it was Haley Kopmeyer in goal for the Reign, not Solo.

And when Rapinoe repeated that protest less than two weeks later, prior to a USWNT exhibition game in Columbus on Sept. 15, it was Ashlyn Harris in goal, not Solo. Six months later, U.S. Soccer introduced a policy declaring its athletes should “stand respectfully” during pregame anthem ceremonies.

Rapinoe and Solo were teammates for a long time, but never after Kaepernick began his protests during the ceremonial playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. And certainly not by 2021, after U.S. Soccer withdrew that policy and several players took a knee prior to a couple of exhibitions in January.

So it seems a stretch that Solo was in position once the protests became an issue to see any more than anyone else who was not ever — or was no longer — involved in the team.

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