Tom Sermanni became the second consecutive foreign manager to lead the United States women's national team when he was hired on Tuesday. In his introductory press conference a day later, Sermanni made it clear that his philosophy won't be much different from his successful predecessor.
Like Pia Sundhage, Sermanni wants the Stars and Stripes to focus on a technical, possession style of play rather than mainly focusing on athleticism to dominate other teams.
"I agree with Pia for the direction that she was going and that's the direction we are going to take moving forward," Sermanni said.
Sundhage tried to implement the style of play to mixed results during her four-year tenure despite leading the U.S. to a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. At times the U.S. would attempt to emphasize passing and movement but when those two aspects didn't work, the team reverted back to utilizing its physical and athletic advantages over opponents. Sermanni hopes that he can continue Sundhage's work while being observant of the United States' current advantages.
"You don't want to take away some of the strengths of the team," Sermanni explained. "You want to improve some of the weaknesses and still take those same strengths that the U.S. has had. It's a huge strength that has intimated opponents."
Still, Sermanni insisted that he will push the team to improve on the technical side of the game as other nations are catching to the U.S. athletically.
"You want the team to play a better brand of soccer," he stated. "In the modern game, you no longer win games just on pace and power. Those gaps have become significantly narrower and that's where in soccer, you're technical ability becomes critical.
"The game is going to continue to go that way."
One area where Sermanni will differ from Sundhage is his national team selection. The former coach of Australia made it clear that he would like to look at younger players and players who might not have been given a chance under the U.S.'s former coach. His philosophy is that in continuing to develop a more possession based style of play, he will look for players who are more comfortable in that system.
"It's also a case of looking for players who can do that as well," Sermanni said. "We want to create greater competition within the national team. To do so, you have to create opportunities for other players."
He added: I'm certainly not adverse to throwing players into the mix and to try to develop players who are outside of the established group at the moment. "
Sermanni officially starts his position as U.S. head coach in January ahead of the team's start to qualifying for the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
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