[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 SI.com 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 Wambachcame 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.