Hope Solo just went off on the Swedish soccer team ... reportedly calling them "a bunch of cowards" after Team USA lost in a penalty shootout.
An obviously pissed off Solo spoke with reporters directly after the game ... and said, "I’m very proud of this team. But I also think we played a bunch of cowards."
"The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that. I think you saw American heart. You saw us give everything we had today," reports SI.com's Grant Wahl.
When asked why she called Sweden "cowards" -- Solo explained said she wasn't impressed with their style of play ... especially the lack of passing.
"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 longballs. 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."