We lost to 'cowards,' US keeper Hope Solo says

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In Defeat, Solo Calls Sweden 'Cowards'

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo called Sweden "a bunch of cowards" after they knocked the United States out of the Olympic women's football tournament on penalties on Friday.

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"I think we showed a lot of heart," Solo told Sports Illustrated after the Europeans moved into the semi-final 4-3 on penalties. "We came back from a goal down. I'm very proud of this team.

"But I also think we played a bunch of cowards," she said. "The best team did not win today," she told the sports magazine, later confirming in a Tweet that she had made the comments after the match in Brasilia.

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2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Quarterfinal - Women's Football Tournament Quarterfinal - Mane Garrincha Stadium - Brasilia, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Stina Blackstenius (SWE) of Sweden (not pictured) scores a goal past goalie Hope Solo (USA) of USA. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Preliminary - Women's First Round - Group G USA v France - Mineirao - Belo Horizonte, Brazil - 06/08/2016. Hope Solo (USA) of U.S. reacts. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Preliminary - Women's First Round - Group G USA v France - Mineirao - Belo Horizonte, Brazil - 06/08/2016. (L-R) Allie Long, Hope Solo and Carie Lloyd (USA) of U.S. listen to national anthem. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Quarterfinal - Women's Football Tournament Quarterfinal - Mane Garrincha Stadium - Brasilia, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Goalie Hope Solo (USA) of USA reacts during the game. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Women's Practice - Group G - Belo Horizonte, Brazil - 02/08/2016. Hope Solo (USA) of the United States trains. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Soccer player Hope Solo arrives for the "Glamour Women of the Year Awards" in the Manhattan borough of New York, November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Goalkeeper Hope Solo arrives with other members of the United States Women's National Soccer team for an event hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama to honor their victory in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup at the White House in Washington October 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Oct 21, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; United States goalkeeper Hope Solo (1) kicks the ball out during a game against Brazil during the first half at Century Link Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN;United States goalkeeper Hope Solo (1) dives but cannot stop an own goal score by United States defender Julie Johnston against Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. Looking on are United States defender Meghan Klingenberg (22) and defender Becky Sauerbrunn (4). The United States won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Hope Solo, goalkeeper of United States Womens National Team, walks on stage with the rest of her teammates as the 2015 World Cup winning team is honored during the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2015 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian
Jul 5, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; United States goalkeeper Hope Solo (1) warms up prior to the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup against Japan at BC Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 4, 2015; Vancouver, BC, CAN; United States goalkeeper Hope Solo smiles during a training session for the 2015 Women's World Cup at B.C. Place. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports
MANAUS, AMAZONAS - AUGUST 09: Hope Solo #1 of United States prepares for their game against Colombia in the Women's Football First Round Group G match on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Amazonia Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Bruno Zanardo/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: Goalkeeper Hope Solo #1 of United States is seen before playing against Sweden during the Women's Football Quarterfinal match at Mane Garrincha Stadium on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 12, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Celso Junior/Getty Images)
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"Sweden dropped off. They did not want open play. They didn't want to pass the ball. They didn't want to play great soccer," she said.

"losing sucks. I'm really bad at it," Solo said in her tweet confirming and resending the comments she made to Sports Illustrated.

The United States were the better team throughout but Alex Morgan and Christen Press missed penalties after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.

It was the first time that the United States have not reached the Olympic final.

"The best teams in the world have to deal with inferior opposition that bunkers in and defends," former U.S. men's captain Alexei Lalas said in a tweet. "But they don't call them cowards."

Solo has regularly courted controversy and Friday's incident was not even her first in these Olympics. The Washington-born keeper was booed mercilessly by Brazilian fans angry at her comments on the Zika virus.

Several athletes chose not to come to Brazil citing Zika scares and Solo posted pictures on social media wearing a mosquito mask over her face and carrying industrial quantities of repellent.

She also indulged in what appeared to be blatant gamesmanship on Friday by calling for a new set of gloves immediately before Sweden's decisive penalty.

Solo, who played her 200th international last week, played well in her opening two games, with wins over New Zealand and France, but had a nightmare in the 2-2 draw against Colombia and was at fault for both goals.

She had little to do against Sweden as the United States struggled to break down their opponents, who tried to hit them on the break.

Stina Blackstenius put Sweden ahead on Friday after 61 minutes but the United States equalized 16 minutes later through Alex Morgan.

Neither side could find a winner in extra time and the Swedes qualified to meet either Brazil or Australia in the semi-final.

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(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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