[USA WOMEN] After leading the USA to back-to-back Olympic gold medals and second place at the 2011 Women's World Cup, U.S. women's national team head coach
Pia Sundhage has decided to return home to pursue opportunities in Sweden. In her five seasons as head coach, she had a 89-6-10 record. Her last game in
charge of the national team will be a friendly against Australia on Sept. 19 in Commerce City, Colo.
Sundhage informed her players hours before they went out and crushed Costa Rica, 8-0, in Rochester, N.Y.
"Today we were kind of blindsided," said midfielder Carli Lloyd whom Sundhage had benched earlier this year but who came back and scored both U.S. goals in the Olympic gold-medal win over Japan. "It was a bit of emotional and it's sad. And whatever lies ahead in her future, she's going to be phenomenal at it. I'm happy for her, but she's going to be missed."
Hometown hero Abby Wambach scored twice against the Ticas before coming out of the game, getting a huge occasion from the Rochester crowd and giving Sundhage hug.
"I never do that," she said. "That's a sign of where it's going to be hard not to leave a field and get into the locker room and not see her. I love Pia so much, because she has shown me what it's like to love the game."
The Swedish women's national team's head coaching job is vacant following the resignation of Thomas Dennerby.
"It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them," said Sundhage. "I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better. Before I took this job, I always admired the spirit and character of the U.S. team, but to experience that first-hand on the training field and from the bench as their coach was truly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Although it is time to move on, I'd like to thank U.S. Soccer for this wonderful opportunity and I wish this team and the players all the best in the future."
Gulati and U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General Dan Flynn will begin the search process for a new coach immediately. No timetable was set for when a decision will be determined.