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Another Sunday night surprise: Sermanni fired
by Paul Kennedy, April 7th, 2014 12:02AM

TAGS:  women's national team


[USA WOMEN] A week after U.S. Soccer announced on a Sunday night that U.S. men's national team assistant coach Martin Vasquez had been reassigned, another Sunday night release brought a surprise. And this was a stunner: U.S. women's national team coach Tom Sermanni was fired hours after his team's 2-0 win over China.

"We want to thank Tom for his service over the past year and half, but we felt that we needed to go in a different direction at this time," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a statement released late Sunday night. "We will begin looking for a new coach immediately to guide our women's national team toward qualifying for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup."

U.S. Soccer director of development Jill Ellis will serve as interim head coach, starting with Thursday's match against China in San Diego.

USA-China: Game Report

In 26 games under Sermanni, the USA went 18-2-4. The two losses came in March at the Algarve Cup. The USA went from having not lost in two years to losing two games in a row for the first time since 2001. After having its 43-game unbeaten streak snapped by Sweden, the USA suffered a historic defeat when it lost to Denmark, 5-3. The USA had never trailed 3-0 at the half and never given up five goals in a game in the 30-year history of the program. The USA finished seventh at the tournament -- its worst finish ever -- despite having a 64-23 edge in shots in its four games.

Perhaps prophetically, Sermanni said in the U.S. Soccer pre-game video his goal for the game for the USA to finish its chances -- something that had not happened in Portugal. But despite a 25-1 edge in shots, the USA only beat China, 2-0. (Just two days earlier, U.S. Soccer had posted a feature on Sermanni, promoting its re-designed web site. By Sunday night, the link to that video no longer worked.) Following the game, Sermanni was called into a meeting with Gulati and U.S. Soccer secretary general Dan Flynn at which he was given the news. He told late Sunday night he was "completed blindsided."

U.S. Soccer has had a short leash with its women's national team coaches. Greg Ryan was fired in 2007 with 45-1-9 record -- his only loss being the 4-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals of the 2007 Women's World Cup semifinals.

Sermanni, who turns 60 in July, had brought many new players into the team and made numerous lineup changes. Only goalie Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd, who scored both goals, started in the 2012 Olympic gold-medal game and started on Sunday against China.

He started Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press -- all based at UEFA Women's Champions League semifinalist Tyreso -- plus University of Virginia midfielder Morgan Brian. None had been on the gold-medal team. Longtime captain Christie Rampone did not play on Sunday, and Abby Wambach came off the bench -- the third time in the last five games she has not started.

Sermanni, who replaced Pia Sundhage after she returned to her native Sweden to coach the national team there, had previously been Australia's women's national team coach. He had moved to Australia in 1983 to finish up his playing career in his native Scotland.

  1. Futbol Genio
    commented on: April 7, 2014 at 8:08 a.m.
    When Sermanni was selected, I thought it was a mistake. Coming from the teams he came from, I did not know how he was going to hang w players we had allowed to become our WNT. I mean we have gone from 3x5 cards shown to others allowing empowerment, to million dollar players, to players that helped shutter two leagues, if not three. When u start a youth movement as well, the vets eat you alive. This is not Australia. Watching the WNT play, it was clear focus had been lost bc VETS felt slighted, and young players lack experience. Playing towards the middle seemed like a non starter. The tinkerers at USSoccer now have to scramble. Pick a coach that has seen it all, or go with top, inexperienced college coach (and cross toes & fingers). DeCicco, Heinrichs, nope...I bet they go with Waldrum/Ellis. Why? Cause they have little choice. No one else in the wings.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: April 7, 2014 at 10:47 a.m.
    "Different direction"? This is where USSoccer loses me. They aren't a big multinational unaccountable to no one. Explain why you're doing whatever it is you've done, and we can understand and support. But how can we know if you won't tell us? I was not a big supporter of Sermanni because of the way the team played. However, he's done what Klinsmann has done, which is bring in new blood to push the starters, to shake up the status quo. Of course, TS doesn't have the stature of JK, but the idea was the same. His execution, however, was not there. My question: why do we care about anything other than the world cup and olympics? That's all that counts on the mens side. Shouldn't we allow our coaches to experiment with these lesser tournaments so when it counts we are ready?

  1. Sidney Hall
    commented on: April 7, 2014 at 11:15 a.m.
    What just happened??? Since I don't know why he was fired, I'm as confused and surprised as everyone else. That said, could we make things any harder for the WNT? Did they forget how close we are to the 2015 Women's World Cup? I personally liked and enjoyed seeing the new players on the team. You can't keep the same players for 15 or 20 years and expect to keep winning. This is a great sport that demands infusions of youth, energy,and new players. I hope they will find someone who will continue to bring new players to the team.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: April 7, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
    This is precisely the time to bring in new people, and we have a great crop. And many of the "old guard" will not even be fit to play at the WC next year, through injuries and age. So he was doing exactly the right thing, and it is working -- they are actually more fun to watch than when everything was Route 1 to Wambach. Somebody needs to come out and tell the truth, for the sake of Tom's reputation if nothing else. So the responsibility is Wambach's or Rampone's -- or more likely Julie Foudy -- the grownup in the room. Or Brandi Chastain.

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