Oct. 21, 2007
By Michael Lewis
IS THE END NEAR?
Ryan could be out as U.S. women's coach
Will Greg Ryan return as women's national team coach for 2008 and beyond?
A nightmare Women's World Cup could very well have taken its toll on Ryan as U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and secretary general Dan Flynn will discuss the coach's future during a 4 p.m. ET Monday conference call.
Rumblings from U.S. Soccer indicate that Ryan will be toast.
The U.S. sorely underachieved in China, finishing a disappointing third.
The Americans played tentatively and were soundly beaten by Brazil, 4-0, in the semifinals, the worst result in the team's long, storied history.
Ryan did not help matters will questionable substitution patterns -- not using all of his subs in early games and sending in defensive players when attack-minded players were needed in the Brazil debacle -- and the controversial benching of regular goalkeeper Hope Solo prior to the semifinal encounter.
Ryan replaced Solo with veteran Briana Scurry, who had backstopped the U.S. to the 1999 WWC crown and to a pair of Olympic gold medals and who had a 12-0 record vs. Brazil. But she hadn't played a full 90 minutes since the 2-0 win over Brazil at Giants Stadium June 23.
Solo, who allowed a goal to go through her hands in the 2-2 draw with North Korea, came up big time the next three games, not surrendering a goal in 298 minutes.
The controversy overshadowed everything. Solo criticized Ryan and Scurry on TV and that clip made the rounds of the internet at warp speed. While not slapped with a formal suspension, Solo had to stay away from the team -- that included meals, practices and the third-place game -- for the remainder of the tournament. She did not fly home with the team.
Ryan's contract runs through the end of the year. Ryan, who took over the team in 2005, earns $175,000 a year.
Gulati has several candidates from which to choose, including former U.S. women's coaches Tony DiCicco and Anson Dorrance, U.S. U-20 coach Jillian Ellis, former Swedish star and China assistant coach Pia Sundhage, who guided the Boston Breakers (WUSA), and former U.S. assistant Lauren Gregg.
The U.S. brought a 51-game unbeaten streak dating back to November, 2004 into the match. But what transpires between the WWC and the Olympics is not considered relevant to U.S. Soccer. Winning championships is.
The U.S. has captured two world championships (1991 and 1999) and a pair of Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004).
The Americans also have finished third at three WWC -- 1995, 2003 and 2007 and has earned a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.