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New USWNT coach to be named by mid-May

Tom Sermanni


The wait for a permanent replacement for fired U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni shouldn’t last too much longer.

A new coach should be hired in the next few weeks, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati told NBC Sports on Saturday.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll be done by the middle of May,” Gulati said. “In the next week or so we’ll reach out to three or four candidates that are on the very short list and talk to them in the next two weeks, and hopefully by mid-May have a decision on which way we’re going on this.”

Sermanni had been fired on April 6 after leading the USWNT to a victory against China in the first game of a two-game set. Jill Ellis, U.S. Soccer’s development director, took over as interim coach immediately and led the USWNT to victory again on April 10 to finish the China set.

Ellis is considered a top contender for the job, along with former assistant coach Tony Gustavsson and others, who likely make up the short list of candidates.

Speaking to NBC Sports in the USWNT’s first match after Sermanni’s dismissal, Heather O’Reilly offered the clearest hints as to why Sermanni had been fired after Gulati declined specifics about Sermanni’s fit within the group and instead pointed to two losses during March’s Algarve Cup.

“I think that we need a coach that’s going to blend this team,” O’Reilly said. “Blend the old, blend the new, blend an aggressive style, blend a possession-oriented style and we just need a coach that is going to have the right cultural fit for this group.”

Ask about the “cultural fit” O’Reilly mentioned, Gulati cited the strong winning record of the American squad and the need for a strong leader.

“I think there’s some attributes about Americans that Heather was probably referring to. One of the things is this team has obviously been very successful,” Gulati said on Saturday. “And I think she was also probably referring to someone that can take a very strong leadership position. We’ll certainly be looking for that and they’ve got to be able to do it very quickly since qualifying is around the corner and then hopefully the World Cup next summer.”

The USWNT must get through CONCACAF World Cup qualifers in October in Mexico before the World Cup next summer in Canada.

Hours after U.S. Soccer announced the firing, Sermanni spoke to SBI and wondered if his open communication style and tendency to talk through the game was part of the reason the job didn’t work out.

The USWNT has a friendly against their North American rivals in Winnipeg, Canada on May 8, which will likely be Ellis’ last as interim coach.


What do you think of this news? Does having a coach in place by May give them the time they need to prepare for qualifers? Who do you think the next coach will be?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Tom Stone is best suited for the head coach position. He knows the game better then most and would go in with no preference to any of the players. He would be a breathe of fresh air.

  2. I’m sure that Wambauch had something to do with it. United States team is an arrogant lot, doing tours , and patting themselves on the back. Yes, they won the Gold at the Olympics, but you don’t see the World Champions , Japan, carrying on like that, because they have what all great players have, and that’s humility. The US women could learn a thing or two about that .

    • “they have what all great players have, and that’s humility”

      Listen to this American pendejo.. futbol and humility! Tell us more about greatness! Is it true you have actually *met* Tony Meola?


  3. Sulati needs to go. Interesting how he put words in HAO’s mouth…”And I think she was also probably referring to someone that can take a very strong leadership position.”

    That would seem to imply someone who has coached a winner before. Pia and TS were both mellow. The next person won’t be.

    Right or wrong, I suspect his statements don’t bode well Ellis and Namazi. I can only think of three who fit the profile that seems to be being outlined — in no particular order.

    1. Dorrance — very doubtful, probability 5%
    2. Dicicco — people laugh when I mention his name, but the suit fits. Probability 35%
    3. Heinrichs — don’t think they are going to the well with her again. Probability less than 5%
    4. Swanson — my personal choice. He is going to be the coach someday. Why not now.. Probability 40%

    Longshot: McDermott — probably too much like Henrichs.
    Please No: Stone

    Wishful Thinking: Make Swanson the coach and bring back Akers as his top assistant.

    I think they are going American, so foreign candidates are all ruled out.

    • Exactly why does “Sulati” need to go? Because he put words in the mouth of “HAO”? Slow down and sort yourself out. Maybe just talk about the candidates you’d like to see appointed as USWNT head coach and staff (as you did quite well) and don’t throw out strange stuff about people you’d like to see fired for some reason. This isn’t “Survivor” or the English FA — we don’t need to throw somebody off the island every time we need to manufacture excitement.

      • I am glad to see the Internet hasn’t changed in over 20 years. If you don’t like someone’s opinion — attack the obvious typo and not the substance. I will be more careful and proofread all of my posts going forward.

        I was uncomfortable with the direction TS was going on, but obviously that is subjective. I would have liked to see his situation handled differently.

        Equally subjective, is my opinion that Sunil Gulati (I hope the lack of typos in his name this time makes you comfortable) has handled the TS issue and some other issues poorly and it is probably time for him to go.

        Typos on message boards have existed as long as the internet.

      • Relax. I don’t really care. But yes it is a good idea to proof a bit… it is a minor nuisance to go back into the article to figure out who “HAO” is because it is nowhere near Heather O’Reilly.

        More to your point, I don’t see calling for Gulati’s ouster as being reasonable. He has been a very valuable leader whose tenure has seen consistent success for both MNT and WNT, and he has established himself as the most powerful figure in CONCACAF (a good thing for US Soccer) without being a corrupt sleaze. Did he handle this firing well? Probably not, but it needed to be done and he didn’t dawdle on it. – it wasn’t an “A” but it wasn’t an “F” either. And since we are discussing replacements- who would be better?

    • So you want to just live in the late 80’s and early 90’s? Dorrance, Dicicco and Heinrichs (who was HATED as the coach) are all steps backwards. And seriously backwards. Why would Swanson want to leave a cushy Virginia gig for a job that is so unstable right now? That wouldn’t make any sense. Marcia McDermott makes zero sense. What would even make you think that was a possibility? Try to live in the here and now, not the distant past.

      • Elite,

        Other than Swanson, I was trying to identify candidates based on the qualities that SG and a few others have said were desirable.

        The only place I personally was living in the distant pass is my desire to see Akers back in the program (yes, I know it is complicated). Her presence would, IMHO, add a lot to the team. The old guard, new old guard, and new guard clearly all don’t get along (which is a shame for a team with such a strong heritage). Akers, part of the old guard, but an apparent outsider for so long would bring huge credibility to the team and could be a unifying force as the lead assistant.

        Why would Swanson want to leave UVA? I don’t know the man, but given his involvement in the age group teams, he very well could have a desire to give the USWNT a shot knowing (especially under the circumstances TS left) that if it didn’t work out, any top tier program would want him back. So, to sum it up, ambition and a desire to help his country.

        Core to the culture of the USWNT, is a mental attitude that started with the McLean Grasshoppers (who I did know well). Dorrance had his “ah ha moment” and put that attitude in concrete with USWNT. TC poored more concrete over it. AH, even more (yes she was disliked and I threw her on the list for grins). That is a lot of years of culture.

        It is going to take a lot of years to change the culture, even if that is desirable. All “hints” that have been published indicate going to someone who is at least slightly familiar with that culture (hence the last minute throw in of McDermott, a quality and thoughtful person who has been off the radar for awhile but came up through the UNC ranks and USWNT ranks and understands the old culture. The perfect choice, perhaps not, but for the purposes of speculation which is all we can do, why not throw her in? Her chances are probably nil.

        The list would change dramatically, if the “hints” were we getting suggested long-term change. But the USSF said it wanted long term change when they hired TS and the culture rejected him (not saying the players, I am saying the culture). Keep in mind, Pia didn’t change much. She found the perfect way to manipulate the politics and for that she deserves a lot of credit.

        If you want a long term plan, many other coaches might work. But there seems to be a tremendous amount of pressure to win now (which is understandable because the USWNT can put 11 on the field that are the best 11 in the world) and a certain style some seem to be looking for in a coach. Hence my list. What is yours?

  4. It’s possible that Sermanni was a bad coach and was making bad decisions. But ultimately, this code words/phrases sound like it’s a case of: he was hired to integrate in new talent (something Sundhage was criticized for NOT doing) and he was hired to continue to make the team more possession-oriented (which is where the women’s game is going) and then he got fired for doing both of the things he was hired to do. To say that playing a possession game is not aggressive soccer is naive–Spain plays possession like no other team on the planet and I defy anyone to argue that they’re not an attacking side, that they refuse to come at you, or like to sit back. The French women are a possession side and they’re probably the most attractive attacking team in women’s soccer over the past 2-3 years.

    • Yes….Sermanni’s moves to integrate younger players and add possession oriented game to the USWNT repertoire were undone by short sightedness, inflexibility and ego. Let’s see where those traits lead.

    • Possession style soccer doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you can’t score, while your opponent parks the bus and scores on you with a fast break. That is what is happened to the US at the Algarve Cup. Despite the French women’s national team playing attractive football they have a hard time finishing big tournaments. Its what is happening to the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and other more possession oriented teams at the club level. Possession oriented style/intricate passing combined with an aggressive fast paced attacking style is the best of both worlds. You have a plan A and B. Fast paced attacking style gives you the ability to score quickly if your down, while possession oriented passing gives you the keep a lead and finish off a match. I just hope the US has enough time to be able to implement the combination.

  5. Why can’t the soccer suits just call a spade a spade? Either say explicitly why you fired the guy or just say that they aren’t going to talk about it and shut the heck up. This sort of hint dropping and using ambiguous terms like “cultural fit” is just a load of BS.

    • Because that’s not how the world works. And for so many legal issues, an employer can never speak publicly about private matters.

    • Because it would be unprofessional to divulge that info and it really isn’t necessary. We could ALL see that he had no clue what he was doing. There is no reason to put him on blast…lol


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