When you've been successful at something it's always good to go out on top. Jerry Seinfeld did it; Dick Vermeil, the coach of the 1999 Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, did it. Now Pia Sundhage is stepping down as U.S. Women's Soccer Team coach after leading the Americans to back-to-back gold medals and their first World Cup final in 12 years. She's not retiring though; she's taking over Sweden's team, which she considers her dream job.
The Swedish soccer association said that Sundhage signed a four-year contract that begins December 1, a day after her contract with U.S. Soccer expires.
The U.S. Team will miss her greatly. It will be interesting to see who they choose to fill her shoes - which are huge. Back-to-back gold medal wins is a tall order for her replacement, but Sundhage is leaving them an incredible team that hasn't shown any sign of post-Olympic fatigue. They actually look better now than ever, and they all seem poised for a major run in the 2015 World Cup.
Early prediction: Even without Sundhage, this Hope Solo and Alex Morgan squad will make another appearance in the World Cup final. The core of the club is strong and in sports, when your core is solid, that usually results in greater things to come. The American team and the Japan team will be favored by everyone; however, Canada is the one who could do some unpredictable damage come 2015..
Sundhage said, "It's really a difficult decision to make as you can imagine being around those guys. They make me look good. I have long dreamed of becoming Sweden coach and now I am so happy."
After Thomas Dennerby resigned last month after eight years as coach of the Swedish women's team, Sundhage's name went to the top of the list to replace him. In Sweden, Sundhage is the face of women's soccer. She led them to the title at the first European Women's Championship in 1984 and she finished her 22-year international career with 71 goals.
A different coach could come in and shake everything up, but this U.S. women's team is pretty tight and open with each other. If something's not broke, no one has to come in and fix it.
Only eight months into Sundhage's tenure, the Americans beat Brazil for the Olympic title. That's some huge shoes to fill. The right coach, with all the diverse personalities on this team, will have their work cut out for them.
Note: I've been an Arsenal fan for nearly a decade. My cousin got me interested in the club at a young age.