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Why U.S. Soccer sacked Greg Ryan
by Mike Woitalla, October 23rd, 2007 7AM

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It wasn't that the USA failed to win the Women's World Cup last month in China, it was how it failed. An unnecessary goalkeeper controversy and an uninspiring brand of soccer is why U.S. Soccer needed to close the chapter on Coach Greg Ryan's two-and-a-half year tenure.

On Monday, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced that Ryan's contract will not be renewed and that a replacement will be named within two months.

Ryan had guided the U.S. women's national team to 49 wins in the 55 games that he was in charge.

A penalty-kick defeat to Germany in 2006 that went into the record book as a tie and a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 Women's World Cup were the only losses the USA suffered while Ryan was in charge.

But next year the U.S. women will aim to win gold at the Olympic Games. Were Ryan to stay in charge, the bitter taste of the failure at the last World Cup would have lingered.

Scapegoating Hope Solo for her few words during the most disappointing moment of her career simply deflected the focus away from the more important lessons of the U.S. performance.

A game plan of outmuscling opponents when the USA should be outplaying its foes, and hearing Ryan defend that style, was the most distressing aspect of the U.S. performance.

How much blame Ryan deserves for the fact that the U.S. women displayed inferior skills and less sophisticated soccer than other teams at the tournament is open to debate.

But clearly a leadership change was required as the U.S. women's game takes on its short- and long-term challenges.



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