The USSF shocked fans by announcing that women's national team coach Tom Sermanni had been fired shortly after a 2-0 win over China in Colorado. Sermanni only had the job for 16 months and went undefeated in his first year in charge with 13 wins in 16 matches. He will be replaced on an interim basis by U.S. director of development Jill Elliss, who previously had five wins and two draws when she last held the interim title in 2012.
From the AP:
"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," U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a release. "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."
Sermanni, who took over from beloved manager Pia Sundhage and previously led the Australian women's team for seven years, experienced his first run of poor results last month at the Algarve Cup. The U.S., who have won the competition eight times in the last 11 years, finished last in their group with a draw and two losses — one of which came against Sundhage's Sweden.
The announcement comes just four days before the U.S.'s next friendly, which is also against China. The Washington Post's Steven Goff reports:
A source close to the situation said the players and the USSF had become increasingly concerned about the program’s direction ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. [...]
The U.S. players aren’t “learning anything, there’s no vision, no direction, nothing,” the source said.
That makes it sound like the players, the core group of whom had been together long before Sermanni arrived, were unhappy with his penchant for tinkering with lineups and formations as they prepare for World Cup qualification later this year. It seems to suggest a player revolt was what did him in, which would explain the abrupt timing of the announcement. But this should be taken with a grain of salt since it's coming from an anonymous source with unknown motives.
The 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship, which serves as the region's World Cup qualifying tournament, will be held in October.
Fox Soccer's Leander Schaerlaeckens spoke to Sermanni shortly after the announcement was made. He said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision.
"I was surprised," Sermanni added. "I didn't see it coming, to be honest. Generally, you always have an intuitive feel about these kind of scenarios and I didn't. Perhaps I should have, but I didn't. I didn't sense what obviously the federation sensed and I've got to take some blame for that because it's my job to have a sense around the team. If the team didn't believe in what we're doing, I should be able to have a sense of that and then be able to either continue to sell the idea of what we're trying to do or change tack and go in a different direction. But I didn't sense that the players hadn't bought into what we're trying to do."
He also said that he had no sense of the players being unhappy with him or the direction he was taking the team.
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