[USA WOMEN]U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said a decision on a new women's national team coach to replace Tom Sermanniwould be made soon -- it could be as soon as days away -- from a short list of candidates, "following that sports adage of having a very short list."
Gulati dismissed the notion that there was some kind of player revolt against Sermanni, whom Gulati terms "an absolute classy guy," and who coached the USA to an 18-2-4 record during his 15-month tenure.
"It wasn't a group of players coming to us and saying something was wrong," Gulati said during a conference call with media on Monday afternoon. He did say there was no best time to make the move. "The standards for this team are very high," he said.
Sermanni had brought new players into the team and his laid-back style was certainly different than that of his predecessor, Swede Pia Sundhage. Gulati said there was no way all players were always going to buy into a coach and his or her style, but he said there were concerns, based on conversations with players, those around the team and those who follow the team closely.
"It is important for the collective buy into the direction," he said, "and we had some concerns."
Sermanni told reporters Sunday night be had been blindsided by Gulati's decision to fire him after Sunday's game against China in Colorado, but Gulati did say there had been discussions with the Scotsman about the state of the team, including one after the Algarve Cup at which the USA went 1-2-1 and finished in seventh place.
Gulati said the outcome of Sunday's game -- a 2-0 win over China in which the USA again failed to finish a ton of chances -- wasn't a factor in the decision. He couldn't say he was 100 percent certain before the game he'd break the news to Sermanni afterward, but he did say an 8-0 win would have made the timing more awkward.
Gulati, who said there were discussions about the move as late as Sunday, did not fault the process or the search committee involved in picking Sermanni -- he said it was the same one that came up with Sundhage. He did say the time frame for making a change was short. After Thursday's match against China in San Diego at which Jill Ellis will serve as interim coach, the next women's match is May 8 against Canada in Winnipeg and Women's World Cup qualifying will be held in October.
On the question of picking a male or female coach, Gulati said, "If we have a choice between two equal candidates, my preference would be to go with a female candidate." He went on to say the same thing regarding an American or foreign coach. All things being equal, he'd go with the American.
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING. Concacaf qualifying for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada will take place Oct 16-26 in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico, like it did in 2010 when the USA fell to Mexico in the semifinals and needed to win playoffs against Costa Rica and Italy to qualify for the 2011 finals in Germany. It's unimaginable that the USA wouldn't qualify. The Women's World Cup has been expanded to 24 teams, so Concacaf will send the top three teams to the finals -- plus the fourth-place team if it wins a playoff against a South American opponent -- from a competition at which Canada will be absent.