VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A public demand by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D, Conn.) for the U.S. women's soccer team to expel Hope Solo compelled two key players in the matter to issue some of the strongest defenses seen in the 12 months since Solo's arrest on domestic violence charges.

The first was U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who wrote a 1,100-word response to Blumenthal's own letter to the organization. The second was Solo's husband, Jerramy Stevens, the former NFL tight end who told USA Today that the whole thing was "a witch hunt."

On Thursday, Blumenthal called on U.S. Soccer to "conduct a thorough investigation" into the details reported by ESPN's Outside the Lines last Sunday.

Among those details were statements by Solo's sister-in-law, Teresa Obert, that Solo forcefully injured both Obert and her then-17-year-old son.

"U.S. Soccer should at least articulate an explanation for Hope Solo's position as an active member of Team USA," Blumenthal wrote. "Hope Solo continuing to play goalie for Team USA just months before she will appear in court to face domestic violence charges, raises troubling questions about the state of the game."

The original case against Solo was dismissed on procedural grounds, not its merits. Prosecutors then appealed the decision in the Seattle suburb where the incident allegedly occurred. They are scheduled to file arguments by July 13, eight days after the World Cup ends.

Blumenthal equated Solo's situation with that of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

"It is distressing that after so many months of national dialogue on the issue, we find ourselves at square one in the Hope Solo situation," Blumenthal wrote. "If the Outside the Lines reports are correct, U.S. Soccer's approach to domestic violence and family violence in this instance is at best superficial and at worst dangerously neglectful and self-serving."

Those two points formed the basis of Gulati's lengthy counterargument, which U.S. Soccer issued to reporters late Friday night. By that time, the American team's scoreless draw against Sweden in Winnipeg had long since concluded, and Solo and her teammates had departed the stadium.

"The charges were dismissed, not based on some minor 'procedural' missteps as suggested in several media reports," Gulati wrote, "but rather because the conduct of the prosecutor and its witnesses denied Ms. Solo her constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial."

Gulati offered a list of reasons for the dismissal, including multiple instances of the complaining witnesses refusing to answer questions and avoiding scheduled interviews.

With the prosecution appealing the dismissal, Gulati concluded, the Federation chose to hold off making a final decision on Solo's future until the appeal is decided.

Solo's status is also governed by a collective bargaining agreement between the federation and the women's national team players union. And on top of that, the Federation is subject to rules set out in, among other laws, the federal-level Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

"The Federation could not then and cannot now simply prevent an otherwise qualified athlete from participating in an international competition," Gulati wrote.

Gulati saved some of his strongest rhetoric for his answer to Blumenthal's equating of Solo with Rice.

"In that [Rice] incident, not only was there unimpeachable video evidence of the assault, but Mr. Rice admitted to it," Gulati wrote. "Here we have two completely contradictory accounts of the incident."

That includes, Gulati said, not only the lack of cooperation from witnesses but also multiple conversations between the Federation and Solo.

"Ms. Solo denied, and continues to deny, the public reports of the incident," Gulati wrote, "and claimed, quite vehemently, that her response was in self-defense."

Solo, her teammates, and coaches have all tried to avoid talking about the situation.

Stevens, however, was not afraid to open up.

"It is a witch hunt - you can put that in the paper," Stevens told USA Today at the Winnipeg airport Saturday morning. "She's the victim of something that was really scary and a really unfortunate incident. [She] being classified even remotely close to Ray Rice and these other domestic violence incidents is ridiculous and outright wrong."

On Saturday evening, Blumenthal responded to Gulati in his own interview with USA Today. He called Gulati's writing "nonsensical" and "tone deaf," and said he did not plan to let up.

"Most striking in this response is the use of the term 'he said, she said,'" Blumenthal said. "Most commonly, that's the reason given by prosecutors for failing to take effective action in domestic violence cases. That comment reveals a mindset that is part of a culture that fails to successfully prosecute domestic violence in this country."

It was yet another sign that the furore over Solo's role with the U.S. team likely will not die down any time soon.