BRASILIA, Brazil -- Hope Solo didn't hold back in her criticism of the Swedish team that eliminated the United States from the Olympic women's soccer tournament in a penalty shootout Friday.
"I thought that we played a courageous game," Solo said. "I thought that we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down; I'm very proud of this team.
"I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today; I strongly, firmly believe that. I think you saw America's heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn't win."
As expected, the Swedish team that had finished third in its group during the tournament's initial phase adopted a defensive strategy against the United States, which had won its group.
The United States dominated possession and finished with 27 shots, but Sweden scored on a counterattack in regulation -- one of only two shots on goal it had in the game.
After playing to a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes, Sweden edged the U.S. 4-3 in the shootout.
Asked to elaborate on what she meant by cowards, Solo referenced Pia Sundhage, the Swedish coach who formerly coached the United States and won two Olympic gold medals.
"Sweden dropped off, didn't want to open play," Solo said. "They didn't want to pass the ball around. They didn't want to play great soccer, entertaining soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their game plan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn't try and press, they didn't want to open the game and they tried to counter with long balls. We had that style of play when Pia was our coach.
"I don't think they're going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They're moving on, and we're going home."
Told of Solo's criticism and asked whether she felt her strategy was justified, Sundhage said only that she was content with it, and she did not address Solo specifically.
Sundhage also said, "It's OK to be a coward if you win."
Solo later took to Twitter, saying, "Losing sucks. I'm really bad at it."
International Olympic Committeee spokesman Mark Adams described Solo's outburst as "disappointing" on Saturday, adding that "people are free to say those things. We wouldn't stop their right to express themselves, within boundaries, obviously."
Former USWNT star and current ESPN analyst Julie Foudy also questioned Solo's comments.
"To call them cowards for playing a tactically smart game is ridiculous and classless and it really doesn't represent the house that we built in the U.S. team," she said.