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April 7, 2014
Multiple issues led to Sermanni firing

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Tom Sermanni was dismissed as US WNT Coach on Sunday.
Tom Sermanni was dismissed as US WNT Coach on Sunday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The decision to fire U.S. Women's National Team coach Tom Sermanni on Sunday was not the result of a single factor, nor was it in response to a player uprising, according to U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, who spoke with reporters on Monday.

"This isn't a group of players coming to seek us out and saying there's something wrong and we need to do something," said Gulati "That's not what was the underlying issue here."

During Sermanni's tenure, the USA was 18-2-4, including a 5-2-1 record this year, but, the Americans suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2001 during the Algarve Cup in Portugal, losing to Sweden, 1-0, on March 7, and then to Denmark, 5-3, three days later.

The teamís seventh-place finish in a competition it has traditionally dominated certainly didnít help the situation, but Gulati said the decision wasn't based solely on results. The showing at the Algarve was one of several factors in the decision, along with the general direction of the team and the response in discussions with players and others around the team.

"The results at the Algarve weren't what we would hope for. The standards for this team are very high and for the program are very high," said Gulati. "That doesnít mean one loss or even two losses would necessitate in our view, push us toward a change but it is all of those factors and assessing based on talking to all the people I've mentioned and looking at things ourselves, we think that we needed to go in a different direction.Ē

Sermanni, who was hired as U.S. coach in October 2012 after a successful stint with Australia, is the first WNT coach to not make it through either a World Cup or an Olympic cycle since those events were instituted. Greg Ryan, who coached the team for two years, was fired after a fiasco at the Women's World Cup in 2007.

With Women's World Cup qualifying less than seven months away, and the tournament itself little more than a year in the future, Gulati said the decision was now in order for the team to be best prepared for Qualifying.

"These decisions always end up being announced in a specific moment," Gualti said of the timing of Sundayís late-night announcement regarding Sermanniís dismissal. "This has been a process for us in assessing things, in watching the team perform, in talking to people over time. I donít know of any good time to make decisions like this. We are in between games, we also have a friendly against Canada at the beginning of May. The players only have three days of training before that, so this actually represents half the training time between now and then. The Women's World Cup is 15 months away, qualifying is six and a half months away."

Jill Ellis will take over the team in the interim, as she did for seven games after Pia Sundhage left following the 2012 Olympics. The team, which beat China 2-0 in Denver on Sunday, faces the same Chinese squad on Thursday in San Diego.

Gulati said there is already a short list of candidates to take over the team on a permanent basis. He also said he didn't have an issue with the process used to hire Sermanni, saying it was the same process used to hire Sundhage.

"It was the same process we used in hiring Pia and she obviously won two Gold medals and lost on penalty kicks in a World Cup final. I'm not sure it's about the process. We think we made the best decision at the time. It hasnít worked out the way we hoped and the way Tom would have hoped, but I donít question the process we that used to get to the final decision regard Tom or Pia. It was the same group. We added one person in the second coach search, another former national team player."

At the time Sermanni was hired, there was no women's professional league in place. The fact that the National Women's Soccer League opens its second season this week, could leave some top coaches out of the running or reluctant or unable to leave their teams for the U.S. job.

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