[USA-SCOTLAND]Only in the United States could the first women's international of the year outdraw the first men's international. That's what's expected Saturday when a new era in U.S. women's soccer starts as Tom Sermannimakes his debut as U.S. national team head coach against his native Scotland at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. It's a fact not lost on Sermanni, who says there's nothing like it in the world of women's soccer than the U.S. national team.
Ticket sales for USA-Scotland at EverBank Field had surpassed 10,000 two weeks ago. The USA-Canada men's friendly in Houston drew only 11,737 on Jan. 29.
Almost all the U.S. women's stars are on hand for the first of a two-game series against Scotland: Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo. The 29 players Sermanni called up also included Olympic gold-medalists Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, who are playing in France.
Amy Rodriguez, who is pregnant, dropped out and was replaced by Zakiya Bywaters, the No. 1 pick in the recent WPSL college draft.
Sermanni said he was impressed what he has seen since taking over the women's job from Pia Sundhage.
"The size of the program was the first thing that struck me," he told the Scotsman, a Scottish daily. "There’s nothing as big as this in women’s football. For instance, one of my first conversations as coach was with the senior team manager Tom King who said to me, 'There’s 15 FIFA dates in 2013, do you want to play in all of them?' Everywhere else teams are scratching around to find funding to play in a handful of games, but not here.”
After Saturday's game, the USA and Scotland will head to Nashville for a game on Wednesday. The USA won its only other meeting with Scotland -- 8-2 in 2002.
Sermanni was born and raised in Glasgow and finished his British playing career at Scottish Dumfermline Athletic. He was 29 when he left for Australia to finish his playing career and it was there that he took up coaching.
His new position as Jurgen Klinsmann's opposite number has created a lot of interest in Scotland.
"I reckon Jurgen's job is tougher," he toldThe Herald, a Scottish daily, "and I have the better one because soccer is the sport of choice for women here."
SCOTLAND.The Scots were seconds away from qualifying for Euro 2013, but former WPS star Veronica Boquete scored on the last kick of the game and gave Spain a 3-2 overtime win (and 4-3 on aggregate) in their playoff series. The Scots led twice in Madrid on goals by Emma Mitchell and Kim Little.
Anna Signeul's Scottish squad for the U.S. series includes three players based outside Britain -- midfielder Hayley Lauder of Mallbackens IF and Jane Ross of Vittsjo in Sweden and Lisa Evans at FFC Turbine Potsdam in Germany. Mitchell is set to move to SGS Essen in Germany.