By CAITLIN MURRAY
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in Denver, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni led the team to a 2-0 victory over China. He didn’t know it, but that was his last game as USWNT coach. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and CEO Dan Flynn fired him.
“After the game, I had a meeting with Sunil and Dan Flynn and they basically said they didn’t think things were working out in regard to the team, how it was progressing and how it was being managed, and they had to go into another direction,” Sermanni told SBI by phone Sunday night, hours after the announcement.
“They didn’t go into any specific reason, but they just felt things weren’t going well within the team. The progress wasn’t where they wanted it to be and things within the team environment weren’t working.”
The news stunned fans and media – Sermanni, hired only 16 months earlier with a contract through 2016, had a record of 18-2-4 and there were no hints anything was amiss. But Sermanni, he said, was just as stunned, too.
“It came as a surprise to me. I’ll be honest,” Sermanni said. “I didn’t perceive that there were issues – I didn’t feel that within the playing group. But maybe my perception let me down and things happened that I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t sense the players weren’t on board with the direction that we were trying to go in, but perhaps I was wrong.”
“I was surprised by the decision, I can’t deny that, but I’m not walking away angry with it. That happens in soccer. I was surprised with it because I did genuinely feel that we were moving in the right direction.”
Sermanni inherited the USWNT fresh off winning gold at the London Olympics and immediately put his stamp on the program. He capped 12 new players and fielded almost a new line-up per game as he shifted minutes from veterans to rookies.
“I don’t know if perhaps the fact that I changed things around, which is a bit alien particularly to the U.S. culture, may have been a factor in the decision,” he said.
But that’s the kind of coach U.S. Soccer hired in January 2013. As Sermanni put it: “In talking to the federation, part of their reason for hiring me was my ability to regenerate a team.”
Sermanni had been lauded for transforming the Australian women’s national team program during his eight-year tenure there. Before leaving for the U.S., he helped Australia reach their highest-ever FIFA ranking of 9th place, which they have since lost and now sit in 11th.
The Australian squad is going through their own coach woes. Players have reportedly “revolted” against Sermanni’s replacement, Hesterine de Reus, calling for her ouster, according to a report out of Australia this week.
Asked if Sermanni would go back to Australia or consider staying in the U.S. at the club level, Sermanni said he was open-minded.
“I’m not sure. Coaching is one of those professions where you never quite know what opportunity is around the corner – or if there are, in fact, any opportunities around the corner,” Sermanni said with a laugh. “I’ll just go back to L.A. tomorrow and get my thoughts together and see what happens from there.”
“Soccer’s a bit funny. Sometimes you’re in a situation where you’re actually looking at potential openings that might pop up. I haven’t really been looking at that. I’ve been totally focused on this job and this position.”
Sermanni said he had no idea who U.S. Soccer will replace him with or if a replacement is lined up yet, but said he hopes the “terrific staff” he had remains in place.
In his relatively short tenure with the Americans, Sermanni lost just two games. Both were during last month’s Algarve Cup and both set dubious milestones for the team.
First, the USWNT snapped a 43-game unbeaten streak in a 1-0 loss against Sweden, coached by Pia Sundhage, who Sermanni replaced when she left the U.S. for her homeland. Sundhage had started the unbeaten streak. Then, the USWNT allowed a record five goals in a 5-3 loss to Denmark, a team that is not considered a powerhouse in women’s soccer.
It was the only major blip for Sermanni when it came to results, but the timing of his dismissal suggests it could have played a role in U.S. Soccer’s decision. The USWNT placed seventh overall in the annual tournament, their worst ever.
“I don’t know if that came into the equation,” Sermanni said. “That could’ve been part of it. I think we were all frustrated with the results. But I think I analyze performances quite critically, regardless of results.”
“I honestly thought in the Algarve Cup that we had one of those tournaments where things didn’t go right on the field results-wise, but the performances, particularly against Japan and Sweden, were promising and showed we were actually going in the right direction.”
But the Algarve Cup was a small piece of his tenure. Speaking to SBI, he wondered whether players had an issue with his “very open” coaching style, which he said is about talking through things with the squad rather than giving them orders.
Whatever it was that led U.S. Soccer to cut his time short, Sermanni said he is disappointed, but harbors no hard feelings.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have been in this position and a little disappointed and sad that I’m not able to continue and finish the job,” he said. “I wouldn’t have taken the job on if I didn’t want to see it through to the conclusion.”
I was surprised that he was let go, but it is what it is and we have to move forward from here. I do have some suggestions though for who the next coach should be here is my list: (1) Kristine Lilly,(2) Brandi Chastain, (3) David Beckham, (4) Diego Maradona, (5) Sir Alex Ferguson, (7) Heather Mitts, (8) Anson Dorrance are some I would even ponder trying to move either Megan Rapinoe, Heather O’Reilly, Amy LePeilbet, or Ashlyn Harris up to the position I think they would make good coaches to. But who ever they pick I hope they pick a good one.
The USWNT set up coupled with the low salaries of professional leagues creates a huge conflict of interest for the players who make it onto the team. Because of the financial incentives, once there, the players’ primary objective becomes staying there,not fielding the best team possible, and that means getting rid of anyone who threatens the status quo. The primary competition isn’t Japan and Germany, it’s the U20s and U23s.
I’m down with the Amish, + 10 for Pele!.
Something has been weird around the whole NT, NWSL thing for awhile like choosing new players to allocate and then never calling them into camp again? The players might have said somethings but I also think Sermani’s constant rotating was messing with the Gulati’s bussiness model.
I logged in to complain about how bad we looked against a relatively weak team only to find out Tom was sacked. I’ve been concerned for some time about how unorganized we look and rely mostly on accidental offense.
IDK who they’ll hire long term… I would like to see Tony D again. I really hope the players didnt get him fired though. That would annoy me a lot.
Things I did like about him is the fact he brought in new people and he had started the phase out of Wambach. It’s time for her to go shes just too slow and basically a 1 trick pony
from Gulati’s interview today:
Gulati did, however, cite three major criteria in his decision to fire Sermanni. First, he explained the dismissal came as a “subject of evaluation of where the team is going and heading.” Next, Gulati cited talks with “players and staff” amongst other individuals around the team. Lastly, he brought up the USWNT’s abysmal performance at last month’s Algarve Cup.
“Standards for this team are very high,” he admitted.
While he stopped at those three criteria, he did let on another possible reason for the decision. Sermanni is known as a laid back character; a 180 degree change from former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage. Personalities, as well as direction, could have contributed further to Sermanni’s dismissal
“Tom does have a unique style and Pia’s is very different,” Gulati explained. “The demand from all of us in the Women’s program and the women’s team fits well with certain styles and not so well with other styles.
“It’s important the collective buy into the direction and how you are moving forward and we had some concerns there.”
The readers of SBI and US fans in general also have concerns about Gulati’s ability to take US soccer to the next level…Let’s put Gulati’s job on the line. If the USWNT does not win the World Cup next year in Canada then Sunil Gulati is a failure, he MUST resign or be sacked.
It is all about the money and paychecks. The vets are afraid they will be cut before WC15 and Olympics 2016 so they wanted him out. Now, they will take over 30 team to WC15 and Brazil 2016. That’s all. This is the last paychecks for many
I just saw Wambach, Lloyd, Rampone will be 35, 33, 40 during the next World Cup. Then there will be a host of other players who will be over 30. Even though, that strikes me as a little old for a World Cup squad, that still isn’t an indication that they cannot play at an elite level. I just remember watching the last World Cup and seeing the more beautiful, possession passing style that Japan and France played, and I wished we played that way.
Likely replacement candidates?
p.s. Hey Tom, Arsene called. He wants his puffy coat back!
No player has hiring/firing authority within USSF. Gulati, Flynn and the other guys in the smoke filled room are the only ones with that decision making authority. If the speculation is that it’s some disgruntled veteran players driving this, then they are saying that those players are really running USSF, with the board acting merely as a rubber stamp for players and their agents/managers. Is that what we believe?
My take on this is-
Should Sermanni be held accountable for where the team is now? Yes. He spent all of last year looking at new players. In 2014 it was past time to move on to gelling the team but instead he continued to tinker with the roster. He also had failed to advance the possession game as much ud think he would in 15 months. And still there is no recognizable offense.
Should Algarve Cup figure into this? Not really. The whole purpose of AG is to do exactly what Sermanni did with it. He didnt manage the Denmark game well siting the need to rest players but either he underestimated that team or overestimated his young replacements. With a tie and a loss TS needed to right the ship against Denmark not set the sails on fire. Still it prolly was the shock the team needed.
Were the players behind this? Absolutely. They had reason to be concerned and still do. What this team needs is a coach with a system and the power to enforce it. The players who dont fit the system can sit or go. The players who feel they r bigger than the program can just go. If the USSF thinks putting a weak coach in now is an option they r sadly mistaken. This was the USSF failure as much as Sermanni’s.
What’s next. First Jill Ellis is a huge mistake. They should have made Swanson interim coach. He at least would have continued along the road to possession and instilled some disapline in his tenure. Who ever the next coach is needs to lay down the law and USSF has to back him/her 100%.
Gulati needs to resign. That should be the opening of his press conference today. The embarrassment of Algarve is just a candle to how badly this was handled. Gulati and his cronies made the federation look like a bunch of fools. Not only did they fire their coach is the middle of a camp, but inexplicably they completely distracted from the beginning of the NWSL season with this nonsense. Awful and unforgivable.
U.S. Soccer killed six good months of what should have been transition time by having that victory tour after the Olympics. 10 games with a fixed veteran roster including players who were ready to move on (Mitts) and a coach who turned out to be a lame duck.
2015 will be an interesting WC. I could see it going either way, but I felt (as others did) that there was a little bit of luck on their side in 2011. Tactically, they were well behind sides like Germany, Japan and France. Other nations continue to develop while America is stuck in your typical “we’ll out-athleticize and out-physical you”…at some point that will catch up, especially if you don’t adapt.
It will be interesting to see what direction the USSF goes, but if it’s back to the status quo of appeasing the players and their teeny-bopper fans alike, then I’d prepare to be disappointed moving forward.
You mean young women and girls who see the USWNT players as role models and icons to look up to in a world dominated by chauvinistic pro-masculine sports hierarchies?
This nonsense about “out-physicaling you” is not rooted in reality. They USWNT are very strong on the ball and are quite technically sound. That’s how they score so many goals with beautiful passing sequences and soft touches around the opponents 18.
while I don’t necessarily agree with DB in that we lack technical ability (tell that to Tobin Heath), I think you’re letting your emotions get the better of you here. This is not a gender issue. When DB says teeny-bopper fans, I think they intended to say that a lot of strong opinions are stemming from fans who are rather young and may not have enough knowledge of the situations at hand to make good decisions. Which is why the USSF and the coaching staff exists. No team is too good to improve. and IF (this is a big if) the players are refusing instruction, the team may suffer greatly for it.
You may be right. It’s close to home for me. I was responding from an interpretation of insult, not inexperience.
I go out of my way to support the USWNT because I want young girls to have the same sporting and competitive opportunities I had when I was playing in college. Vote with my wallet.
I completely agree with you. Gender issues in sports is one of my biggest personal battles. I’m glad you go out of your way to support the team, and women’s sports. Just didn’t want to see this escalate 🙂
I do agree with you.
Steph is right in what I’m referring too. Check the USWNT hastag on Twitter during a match and this is most of what you get:
Why isn’t (insert player) playing?
Ugh, score already.
This is your main fan base, for better or worse.
P.S. Heath has great technical ability…perhaps to the point where she doesn’t always fit in with the rest of the player pool because of it.
To add a minor correction. I meant to include that We may never know why. But, it is what it is. We move on.
And furthermore, the Algarve Cup is hugely important. And Sermanni probably ruffled major feathers by experimenting wildly during the tournament.
There’s a major difference between using friendlies during the off-years to build your pool. But major tournaments? No.
Hugely important —- to who?? I think that is the question. Because you don’t see the american fans and the tv ratings spiking for that ANNUAL tournament. The Olympics and the WWC are hugely important. It is highly odd to see how this is done, how differently Sunil dealth with Sermanni as opposed to Bob Bradley – without seeing the impatient, unprofessional fingerprints of current or retired players on this, affecting him and Flynn. I think that is why there is the reaction you’re seeing. I’m sure that Sermanni would defend that he was far from experimenting wildly, but giving players a chance to succeed or fail under true pressure, narrowing down who he can rely on for the rest of the 2015 cycle.
I agree that the Algarve Cup is hugely important. It’s the closest thing out there to a WC or Olympic tournament (i.e.: competitive, good teams, games close together). But there is some revisionist history here if people are arguing that theAlgarve cup result is a function of playing a lot of young players or “experimenting wildly”.
1. Opening tie against Japan: US dominates play against a good team but scores only 1 goal as team shows terrible finishing. Solo misjudges a 40 yard shot to let in the tying score. Hard to blame Sermanni for this result.
2. Loss to Sweden: LeRoux out with food poisoning, strikers are Wambach and A-Rod. Wambach misses a PK. Wambach and A-Rod are ineffective. Sermanni subs in Hagen (first cap) and Press, they’re much more effective in this match and Hagen nearly ties the score late in the match. 1-0 loss, US outshoots Sweden 12-4.
3. Loss to Denmark: Sermanni starts Solo in goal and a veteran backline (Cox, Klingberg, Engen, and Rampone). Denmark owns possession in the first half and goes up 3-0, continuously getting behind the US backline. Second half, Sermanni pulls a defender and plays 3 forwards (which Wambach had been arguing with him to do as a formation), the US pulls back 3 but concedes 2 goals on counters and goes down 5-3.
Now, maybe Sermanni is a mediocre coach. But he was told to bring in young players. He didn’t remake the entire side (he always had veterans on the field whenever someone like Press or Bryan played). He was given a mission of playing a more possession-oriented style. And it’s really hard to argue which veterans he should have brought to the Algarve (but didn’t) that would have changed the result: O’Hara, Heath, Morgan were all hurting and out or only part-time, some of the veterans (like Solo and Wambach) had bad games.
Very good lucid clear assessment there Joe W.
It all a little weird to me also Like I said before, Sans Morgan
they showed to me to be only 3 or 4 players off from what I would have considered their strongest team moving forward to next WC.
And if Wam, is really concerned about playing time she shouldn’t be.
There is no way she will or should be playing a full 90 in say back to back matches in a close, competition format.
Rampone,(The Baresi/Maldini of the USWNT), now best serves as a player/coach mostly on the bench at this point.
A steady Engen who I have questioned in the past showed with the dynamic Klingenberg that they have solidly stated a case to be in the top 6 or 7 defensive player rotation anchored now by Kriegs & Sauer.
This is judging by last China match.
More than anything they just gotta finish all those squandered chances, it matters in all matches particularly in major tournaments and against all top 20 teams now.
PS Watch out for Spain!, their ladies are starting to do that tiki taka thing.
Odd how people will just create whatever fantasy scenario they wish and slander people left and right because… why not? It’s the internet!
All we know is that sources in the team have said that Sermanni had no tactical visions or direction for the squad and that players were losing faith.
How that translates to Wambach and Morgan are selfish money-grubbers is fascinating, but just a wild unsubstantiated theory.
This isn’t Goal.com. Can we please keep it rational?
So, your “sources” and opinions are the “rational” options and others sources/opinions are “just wild unsubstantiated theory”.
Sounds like you don’t want to believe that ego/lack of playing in combination with money considerations can cloud the opinion/rationality of certain players – welcome to planet earth. Often people are selfish, crooked, misguided, etc. when ego and money come into play (see the financial sector/investment bank fiasco). Smiling on TV and kicking a ball into a net doesn’t create immunity from this.
I don’t see Sermanni’s firing as being related to tactics, knowledge, or personality. Oddly, the long term balance of the team will benefit from his insistence to give younger players more experience, unfortunately he won’t be around to enjoy it. Short sighted and irrational decision by Sunil & Co.? It sure looks that way. Time will tell.
My sources are the professionals reporting.
Well said Clifford Brown + 10 for Pele.
Funny thing is is that I really don’t think any of the big money train players were in any jeopardy of not making it until after next WC anyway.
This group seems to be making the same selfish move as the ’99ers. They need to talk with Carlos Bocanegra on how to be replaced with class.
Also, didn’t Walmbach do the same thing with magicJack?
When the inmates run the asylum, dont be surprised when the building burns down. USWNT needs to realize that the times of beating teams like they were UCONN womens basketball is over.Talent is wider spread throughout the world women’s game. They are less UCONN and more Tennessee, formerly a great program going through an identity crisis and a trying to get back on track. Maybe this group of players is spoiled and dont know to fight through adversity, probably because they never needed to. I dont know what to make of this but to me it looks like the federation backed a player mutiny. Not a good sign
If you’re going to compare the team to UConn Women’s Basketball, you need to recognize how that program is run. Geno Auriemma (coach of the team) starts the same five players every single game. That roster changes each season, but once it’s set, that’s it, barring injury. What’s more, he only has one or two players consistently coming off the bench, even though substitutions are not limited the way they are in soccer. That high level of consistency creates a dangerous starting five that are so in-sync with each other they rarely need to “run plays.” They just play the game. And it works.
So Sermanni’s extreme lack of consistency would have continued to be a problem. It’s good to bring in new players, but at this point there needs to be a relatively set starting line up so the team feels comfortable come qualifying time. I realize there are missing puzzle pieces (ex Morgan) and the wwc is still a year away, but Algarve was not promising. Geno Auriemma NEVER puts new players in his starting lineup at UConn. He takes time to develop them first.
There is widespread talent in women’s basketball as well–Notre Dame (although I despise them) is just as dominant. Baylor and Stanford have been a part of the conversation for years. There are wildcards like Louisville and even Elena Delle Donne, who played at Delaware of all places. UConn has a great overall group of players, but how Geno runs his team is what makes UConn nearly unstoppable.
Sermanni tried to rebuild a team that didn’t need to be rebuilt. He had the liberty of making changes, but he treated the team as if they were Australia; decent, but still on the outside looking in. Imagine a new coach benching the entire UConn starting lineup and starting his freshmen and secondary players, because that’s what happened here. The USWNT did not need the radical changes that Sermanni had in mind. The timing is poor, but better now than after a disappointing wwc.
Steph–I don’t know enough details to be able to say if Sermani was tactically and techniquely a good coach or if his “man management” skills were appropriate for this team (evidently not since he had a revolt on his hands). But the analogy to UConn basketball isn’t appropriate.
1. Part of the issue here is that Sermani was seeking to make the team more possession-oriented. That’s the direction that the women’s game is going.
2. Sermani wanted to take advantage of the depth the US has and to not go with the same 11 players every match–especially in a WC or another tournament (Olympics, etc.). When the US has significantly more matches than other countries (for instance 32 matches in 2012 vs. Brazil’s 13) and longer camps and even residency arrangements at times, that allows you to build cohesion. None of the top men’s teams in the world (club or international) have an 11 that never changes. Players fight for spots. Injuries happen.
3. It seems to me that Sermani treated the US women as the “Anti-Australia.” He didn’t act as if he only had 11 good players but instead had 30-40 good players. He didn’t act as if he had to out-tactic or bunker and counter against good teams but instead sought to have better possession.
Now again, maybe Sermani is a good coach, maybe he’s a bad coach. But he was intentionally brought in with the understanding that he would:
–expand the roster and integrate a lot of younger players (which Sundhage did not), and
–that he’d build more of a possession gain so the US women got away from being bigger and more physical than their opponents. Think of what Klinsman and then Lowe did transitioning Germany from a disciplined, bigger, harder, more physical team (with less touch and creativity) to one that oozes skill, attacks, owns the ball, and can kill you from all over the field.
Maybe Sermani did a poor job at those transitions (I can’t honestly judge). But I can tell you that it was specifically hired to do those things and if they’re “radical changes” than heaven help the US Women.
I’ll start by saying that I only used UConn here because I was responding to another comment which cited UConn in comparison to the uswnt. I don’t believe that the two teams are necessarily comparable. They are two teams in different sports playing at different levels, and are in two different situations. I understand that. That’s why I tried to focus on the coach’s approach. I think an observation of a coach with a consistently dominant team is applicable here. The USWNT is, and has been, a consistently dominant team, so it needs a coach that can be effective in that situation.
1. The possession in the games became LESS productive under Sermanni, and the problems were not only in the final third of the pitch. So he doesn’t get any slack from me there.
2. I am not suggesting that that USWNT never make any substitutions. We have depth, and it’s wise to use it. But there’s a difference between expanding the roster and creating a new one. It’s obvious that there is not cohesion on the pitch, and there hasn’t been since Sermanni took over. If Sermanni had taken over earlier, maybe he would have pulled the team together with more time on his side. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have that luxury. U.S. Soccer may have pulled the trigger prematurely, but there’s a time crunch.
3. When I say he treated the team as Australia, I mean that he acted as if he had to create a good team, as if there was not an already good team in front of him. Again, he is allowed to experiment, but I think he took it to extremes.
I don’t think the women’s team should never change for the sake of improving and evolving. That’s a natural part of the game. But I don’t feel like the team will suffer without Sermanni, and that says something. As a manager/coach, he is responsible for grounding the team and creating a (relatively) stable and confident environment. Apart from fighting for spots on the roster, there has been a lot of unnecessary uncertainty, and that hurts the team. I understand your points, and on some level I agree, but I’m not sad to see him go.
Well thought out, Steph.
Steph, the post prior to your’s mentioning UConn basketball said that in women’s basketball, the world had changed so what used to work for UConn was no longer enough. You then proceeded to argue why the US Women should follow the UConn model. I’m just saying that UConn basketball doesn’t apply here.
1. You keep arguing that Sermani took things to extreme, that he experimented too much. But he was hired specifically to make the team more possession-oriented and to bring in a lot of younger players. We can debate whether he’s the right coach to do those things or not, but USSF give him that mission and that’s what he said at the outset he’d be doing. Now maybe he’s the wrong coach to produce these results. But it’s wrong to argue he went too far–that’s exactly what he was hired to do.
2. I never accused you of advocating no substitutions–you’re putting out a straw argument here. Sermani was attempting to have more than 11 starters, to not start the same 11 people (intentionally) in tournaments. And Wambach for one thought this was a bad idea and she said so.
3. I don’t get where you feel like he was attempting to create a new team. There’s plenty of criticism in earlier threads about Sermani playing Wambach and the veterans too much, not playing Press and other newcomers enough. He never demeaned any of them or dissed their accomplishments. But again, the direction he was given was to expand the pool of talent and to make the team more possession-oriented and technical. That’s not re-inventing the team or ignoring he has a good team, that’s acknowledging (based on direction from his bosses) that the team needs to grow and evolve.
The USWNT was becoming ageing dinosaur:
“–that he’d build more of a possession gain so the US women got away from being bigger and more physical than their opponents. “
Yes you were right. He did his job about ball possession but unfortunately you don’t score the game through number of possession or minutes in possession. And I think that’s the key.You can have less possession in minutes and numbers but you put the ball in the goal more than your opponent and win, that would be the best thing to happen.
Have to feel this is a mutiny, that the old guard was worried about their paycheck.
hopefully the reason come out in the news conference. I have to really start wondering about supporting the womens national team at this point.
Abby Wambach obviously doesnt remember when she was being squeezed out by vets as a youngster in the 99ers era and now she’s playing the vet role 15 years later with LeRoux and the crop of young fast female strikers we have now playing the Wambach role. Funny how the world works, its all circular
I’m wondering where everyone is hearing that some of the veteran players have been complaining. Is this all speculation?
Nope, it’s not speculation. Wambach was quoted as saying that she went to Sermani to argue for playing 3 forwards and he smiled but said no. And Morgan said she was receiving all sorts of texts and emails from veterans about how unhappy they were.
It appears that at least one major factor was that Sermani had told the team that going in to tournaments, there would not be a set group of 11 starters–that he would play lots of players rather than a set 11 with a couple of reserves. This was an effort to take advantage of the US depth, blood the youngsters, provide some tactical diversity (as some players are better suited for one system over another). A number of players rebelled against this saying that if you didn’t play the same 11 consistently than you couldn’t develop chemistry.
inmates ruling the asylum. probably the #1 reason the USA women havent won a wc in forever, they think theyre more important than they are.
Not sure it’s fair to say that this is unique to the US Women. For instance, Australia’s women’s team is in a somewhat similar situation at the moment.
But yeah, it’s a bit dis-heartening if this was about a player mutiny. I don’t see a huge issue with the idea of taking advantage of US depth and not always starting the same 11 players (especially since the US women play a LOT of matches plus long camps in any given year so there are opportunities to build cohesion). I also don’t see a problem with cycling in new players. Or trying to play a more possession style. Frankly, I thought it was an injustice that the USA finished ahead of France in the last WC–the USA is tactically and technique-wise behind France in the women’s game right now. Now maybe Sermani was doing a lousy job (for instance, even with newcomers you shouldn’t give up 5 goals to….Denmark). But the comments so far seem this is much more about “man-management” than tactics.
Just a comment for Solies. Our American women are the best players in the world. They’ve proven that time in and time out. That doesn’t meant that they have to win, or will win, every major tournament they participate in. Take Brazil for that matter on the men’s side. This isn’t the first time they’ve had some coaching issues. But one thing remains, which is, that thru all of the diversity, they’ve done what they’re supposed to do. They’ve performed at the highest level, consistently. And, yes, that does mean something, and yes, it creates expectancies that are beyond what you and I would ever imagine. I have two daughters that are both Olympic Development Players, and they’ve both played for the state teams at the highest level. I think that earns them the right to voice their opinions if the need to. So, why not give our American Women the respect they deserve because, in the end, they’re the ones on the field.
Biggest, fastest, strongest, best organized. Best soccer players? I don’t know. Japan, France, Sweden have looked good against them. Too reliant on fitness, I’d say.
you have 2 girls in the ODP: First, congrats to them. Second, you are not objective. Are you advancing the idea that players, of whatever sport or gender, should be given the keys to the bus? Allowed to run things? Dont need coaches at all perhaps?
I don’t think I said anything about keys to a bus. My point is what I said. I think that everyone can agree that Communication between coaches and players is critical. Especially, at that level. We may never know what really happened. Us soccer felt the need to dispose of him. Ok. Move on. And, if you’re thinking about analyzing what I just responded, let me help you……..theres nothing else to it. Ok, that’s it. For the rest of you all out there….this is very entertaining as you all tear up each other’s opinions. Good stuff.
Just because you are a good player does not mean you are a good coach or get the game at that level. I was an ODP and collegiate player, and often team captain of the teams I was affiliated with. After a short hiatus after my college career to concentrate on my profession and family, I returned to the game as a coach. You would think that someone who ate, slept and dreamt soccer for 20+ years and played at high levels would easily transition to coach, but I learned it was not the same, not even close. If you would have asked me at 21, surely I would have had an opinion about formation, player abilities, etc. I likely would have been firm in my opinions too. It was only upon entering the coaching equation that I could appreciate the differences.
I say all of that because I don’t agree that the tactical opinions of players should be held in quite the regard you advocate, particularly in your example…with ODP players.
Players play, coaches coach. Each should do their job and respect the differences in their roles.
coaching:playing :: forward:goalkeeper
Actually, I am a keeper, and I have found that the best subs for me are forwards. And I always score when I play forward. Know your enemy kind of thing.
Just an observation, anecdotes aren’t evidence.
I have been a coaching at many levels since 1970 when I was just only 10 years old, I was a coaching assistant for my father during his coaching clinics in Texas…
I have played all amateur levels, high school, top collegiate soccer, and professional…all positions.
From my coaching career I learned you can’t think that you can coach every team. Every team, which is a group of individuals, is considered its own entity. Sometimes that entity and you just don’t mix, like there is no chemistry and harmony. So coaching is very complex in its own nature, and sometimes it takes trial and error for a coach to find the right team.
But I agree, players should play, and coaches should coach. I have witnessed and been part of soccer teams where there is no coach, and those teams were successful…so it is possible to have a team without a coach, but that is just an exception to the rule.
Humans are very complex in nature, so to get a group of people together to create a team, and the team has an objective, and there is some type of leader of that group to focus them to achieve that objective, that whole process is very complex.
A good example is the movie industry. There is a team of many, many individuals, who manage to communicate, execute, and produce fantastic and entertaining movies, and there always is some type of leader to manage that process…
So yes, there can be a team without a coach, but mostly most teams need a leader, a coach, to give the team direction and hopefully teach them to improve themselves as athletes as well.
A team is a dynamic entity, and basically it takes humbleness, respect, discipline, knowledge, and hard work from each individual on this team to achieve success and harmony…and if any of the above is out of balance, so is the team.
I feel for Tom Sermanni the ex-coach of USWNT…but if he is a good coach, he will find another team to coach, and I wish him well and I hope he achieves a lot of success in his future coaching career.
One more thing, I have coached at all levels, all ages, both men and women.
And I must say, coaching women, is an art, that not all coaches possess. Ask any successfully married man, and he will agree, especially when it comes to maintaining a successful relationship with a women.
Players know a lot, but one thing they will never be objective about is when it is time to hang up their cleats. How many on this team decided to continue playing just for one more shot at a WC title when they would have retired had they won. There is a sense of entitlement in the women’s set up in the US that will always hold them back.
Yea, am guessing that the German and Swedish teams have a more psychologically healthy team dynamic.
One get’s the feeling of “entitlement” concerning some U.S. players.
“inmates ruling the asylum. probably the #1 reason the USA women havent won a wc in forever”
Not sure why we have so much of this kind of silly over-reaction from people when talking about the USWNT. It doesn’t matter whether it’s them or Barça or whoever, the best teams/athletes in the world at their chosen sports hardly win every time, especially when the competition in question involves crap shoot elements like single-elimination matches, or particularly something like PKs.
Rather, the best teams consistently win in general and are consistently a threat to win even those one-off big events or tournaments. Exactly like the USWNT.
of course its not specific to the USA women. So what? Does that make it all ok? What are you trying to say.
Just what I said: that’s an example of the silly over-reaction we tend to hear about the USWNT.
In making the statement that I quoted, you are ignoring the fact that the team made it to the final of the world’s highest-level tournament in their sport, one in single-elimination format, and furthermore made it to PKs that decided that final, and the crap shoot nature of both of both of those aspects of the situation. You instead jump bizarrely to the conclusion that the team didn’t win that final because “the inmates are running the asylum.” That’s silly.
Wambach and Morgan make probably 90% of their income from endorsements and advertising deals. You can be sure that anything or person that might be seen as a threat to that revenue stream will trigger a lot of back-channel maneuverings by their agents.
Unless Morgan is the sounding board for the whole USWNT, it’s more likely she fielded calls from players she is closest to on the team. It’s likely she spoke to “veterans” but it’s probably the ones closer to her age: O’Hara, Leroux, Heath… and non-Algarve like Holiday. It’ true they have been recent staples on the NT but I’d hardly deem the “veterans”. And that makes it even more interesting that it wasn’t solely voiced by many assume – they passing/aging guard, but includes the present& future of USWNT..
Unless, Morgan names names we’ll never know. If I were an aging veteran worried about my slot, Alex Morgan would be the one teammate I would want to make my case to as she is the new face of the women’s game here in the USA. I think it is quite possible that she had the entire team texting her.
I agree. Some of the “old guard” didn’t necessarily adapt to the change well in my opinion.
Hell no- Gulati must go!! Sermanni brought in young players that needed the experience-Wambach, and Lloyd only have only some many years left- Press, Brian and the youngsters are the new wave of players- Better to bring them in now and get the experience then to have the youngsters crack with the folks who are on borrowed time at the World Cup and have problems then!!
Good piece, Caitlin–your USWNT.WPSL stuff is some of the best written on this site.
He did a lot of good things as far as widening the talent pool, which I am sure upset the old guard.
At some point, Wambach will have to step aside and give the reigns to LeRoux and Morgan (if Alex gets healthy). That won’t be easy: and I don’t think his firing is unrelated to her coming on late in the
Jurgen is still experimenting with his roster less than 70 days before the World Cup and he gets a pass? This really doesn’t make much sense. US Soccer should have let Sermanni continue to give the younger players playing time and gradually let Wambach, Lloyd, Rodriguez move on.
This is not about Klinsi getting a “pass” but the USSF had tougher standards for Sermani. This is about a number of USWNT players being upset with Sermani. The complaints I’ve heard so far are:
–Wambach wanted to play with 3 forwards and Sermani said no to that option.
–Sermani said that there wouldn’t be a set group of 11 starters but that lineups would rotate in tournaments to take advantage of the team depth.
–Sermani insisted on blooding a lot of new players (something Sundhage did less of). Note: by not calling in some of the vets, this has a significant financial impact for some of them (as they don’t have lucrative professional contracts and without US cap money that’s a hit on their income).
I’m sure there’s more stuff that will come out. But my take is that this was a mutiny.
Very good points. It’s a totally different environment for the men. For the women, the national IS their daily job, how they stay fit, etc. All the more reason to see the team act out politically and unprofessionally as they have done in the past. I’m a big Wambach fan, but I’d rather see the US win the WC without her, than lose it with her. But the girls club is throwing all in with their veteran royalty. I wish them well, but an aging squad doesn’t forbode good things in 2015.
From Grant Wahl’s SI piece.
“It could be the U.S. team is a unique team that has certain demands that perhaps my management style or my philosophy didn’t quite gel with.”
“certain demands” is code for Wambach’s outsize influence, IMO.
You can’t compare Klinnsman to Sermanni. Only one of them coaches/d the Number 1 team in the world. Furthermore, one of them racked up first-ever honors (wins against Mexico, Italy, etc.) while the other delivered a worst-ever performance.
Also, JK is probably not “experimenting” with his roster so much as he is “testing” it; i.e., let’s see how player X responds when player Y is subbed off. (Of course, the same could be said of Sermanni.)
I’m not saying Sermanni was bad and should be fired, just that the USWNT cannot be compared to the USMNT.
Exactly. Completely different expectations for the two.
The objective for the WNT is to win the World Cup, nothing less. The MNT, while their goal is to strive for the World Cup, the expectation is far less (like get out of group, win KO game etc..).
What is obvious is that Tom is a thoroughly decent man. I find it odd that he doesn’t really know why he was let go. That’s not how you manage the coach of the best soccer team in the world.
Good luck to his successor. They’ll need it.
I think he knows why he was fired, he’s just to classy to say it, and he understands how the game is played as far as getting another coaching job, if he is interested.
If he knew why, then he could say, “They told me their reasons and while I see that we disagree, I still respect them.” That’s still classy.
Unfortunately I think his firing was more about the inability of a few influential veteran players inability to adapt to change. More specifically, change that did not mesh well with their particular style of play. What is truly unfortunate is the manner in which this was conducted and it does not bode well for US women’s soccer. Sermanni deserved better.
My thinking too.
Well put. In the end, my issue is that I look at these women as professionals. And most of them have never or rarely played in a professional environment where they understand their roles. I’m all about player feedback, but the timing of this makes absolutely no sense. Gulati should be the wiser head here and get this timing done correctly. Unneeded drama based on the facts in so far.
The author of the WaPo article hints as much in the comments that it was an old guard revolt. Personally, I think there are way too many players with 120 plus caps on this squad right now and they all seem to think they’ll be playing forever. I agree that this team might be in trouble, but not because of Sermanni.
Like USSF did re: firing of Bradley, Gulati must have at least gotten feedback from WNT players re: Sermanni. And if those players (most likely key veterans) were concerned about the direction, what does that bode for the youngsters or other WNT pool players that have gotten opps/caps/flourished under him. Oh boy, that going to be an interesting locker room dynamics. As the current UMich WoSo coach knows managing a team isn’t just about tactics but handling personalities. I’ll give credit to Pia, she excelled in that area.
Actually, feedback from USMNT players probably played no impact what-so-ever in the firing of BB. I don’t think I ever read that any of the men were consulted in the decision to fire BB and hire Klinsman.
Klinsmann’s hiring had everything to do with Sunil finally agreeing to give him everything he wanted after five years of footsie. If you remember, the USMNT players were supportive of BB after the Gold Cup loss to Mexico. Sunil just finally agreed to give Klinsmann total control.
Shocked by the dismissal esp the timing in between friendlies. Yes, I’m curious what really was the trigger. I wasn’t too bothered by the Algarve Cup results because I felt that it was a good opportunity for the inexperienced/young veterans to step up vs. WWC competition. What I was bothered by was his assessment of the USWNT’s Algarve Cup performance because it wasn’t something you deemed “promising”. Yes, USWNT possessed the ball more but it wasn’t positive possession, the MF lacked cohesiveness and yes, they also had issues finishing (uncharacteristic based on the number of quality US forwards), but the flurry of SOG were mostly toward the end of the games after they pushed numbers forward – so stats like SOG were misleading. Based on Tom’s response to Algarve Cup performance “promising and showed we were actually going in the right direction” sounds like something a coach/manager on a upstart team rather than the number one ranked team in the world.
My other quandary was his approach toward the starting XI at the WWC. I assumed that nearing the qualifiers that he would line up a more consistent starting XI and then make a few adjustments here and there due to the condensed play schedule. But I suppose if you base it off of purely his short US coaching history and his comments, he could have been proposing wholesale lineup changes like he has done all through his tenure. And that scenario seemed like a potential disaster. And one of the most glaring and cliché observation recently about USWNT so-so performances was the lack of chemistry.
I get some fans feel it’s unfair to fire him based off of the performance of the Algarve Cup since it’s a place to experiment (esp off cycle years) and that they were missing key players like Holiday and Morgan. But how does that explain how USWNT won the Algarve cup last year yet missed it’s entire starting spine of Lloyd and Holiday. And in both years, USWNT played almost entirely different lineups (exception of Morgan n ’13 and O’Reilly in ’14). The link play seemed better last year or does winning mask the flaws? As for a new coach –> I hear a FIFA nominated COY is available – CPC anyone? She’s also a 99er. haha.
Won Algarbe Cup 2013? Easy! StllPia’s imprint and structure on the team. This year it was his Team – and it showed.
And by results I don’t mean the final score, but what you reap concerning insights, chemistry, technique, cohesion, …
Unfortunately: nope. Can Naeher Play? No idea, did not Play. Can Hagen Play? No idea, 8 Minutes first, then some more minutes in Desperation time, lumped together with Abby. Do the Mewis-sisters belong on the field? A resounding NO – but TS sorely needed positive Headlines, so “the Mewis-sisters make history starting together” was a MUST. Last game – score 3:0 after 60 minutes – do you give some Youngsters, especially Naeher, Hagen some healthy 30 minutes to see what they can do? Nope! Algarve Cup is meant to produce results (see above, more than the scores). Algarve Cup 2014 only provided one result: this coach is a disaster. As o being totally blindsided by his firing: after the Korea-game he said to us fans “see you next year – if I am still Coaching the Team”…