Former Team USA Keeper: Hope Solo Should Be Benched

Jill Loyden, middle, believes that her former teammate Hope Solo, left, should not be playing for the U.S. women's national soccer team until her domestic violence case is resolved. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

As a national conversation about domestic violence has exploded over the past month, U.S. women's soccer players have been unanimously supportive of embattled goalie Hope Solo.

Until now.

Former Team USA backup goalkeeper Jillian Loyden, who split a USWNT shutout with Solo a few months ago, has decided to speak out against someone she calls both a friend and mentor.

In an op-ed running today in USA Today and in an exclusive interview with espnW, Loyden says Solo should be sat down immediately as her domestic violence case plays out in court.

Loyden, who has decided to retire from international soccer, lost her sister, Britton, two years ago in a domestic violence crime. With soccer out of the picture, Loyden wants to dedicate the rest of her life to raising Britton's son, Madden, and running her domestic violence charity, the Jillian Loyden Foundation.

"I'm not trying to play judge and jury here. I'm not trying to condemn anybody," Loyden said. "Clearly it's serious to me -- I lost my sister to this issue -- and I think we need to take more careful consideration in dealing with this matter."

Still, speaking out hasn't been easy. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati reiterated in a statement recently that he stands by the decision to let Solo continue to play. And Solo's teammates have unanimously been supportive publicly. Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux both tweeted words of encouragement.

"This has been an incredibly hard thing for me to go through," Loyden said. "In the last week, I haven't grieved like this since the loss of my sister. It's a very painful experience and one that's not easy.

"The more I'm out on the field coaching, the more I see these young people playing soccer, the more I see my sister in these girls and my nephew in these boys, the more I realize that my voice wasn't able to help my sister but my voice can help save people from encountering what my sister went though."

After making her decision to retire and come out in a public stand against Solo, Loyden called Solo late last week to let her know. She refused to reveal what the tone of their conversation was. (Solo, through her attorney, declined to comment for this story.)

"That's obviously between Hope and I," Loyden said. "She's been a great mentor in my life, she's been a great friend for the last five years, and nothing will change on my part. I will continue to love her through this, and this [speaking out] has nothing to do with her. I hope that she's innocent and that her name gets cleared and everything gets resolved."

But Loyden said she couldn't go another day of looking Madden in the face without speaking up.

"I have experienced domestic violence at the worst level -- losing my best friend, losing my hero, losing my sister," Loyden said. "And if I haven't had the courage to say anything yet, how can I expect other people to do that when I haven't done so myself?"