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Oct. 22, 2007
Ryan's contract as women's national coach won't be renewed by U.S. Soccer

By Michael Lewis Editor

Despite losing only once, Greg Ryan won't be coming back as U.S. national women's coach.
Despite losing only once, Greg Ryan won't be coming back as U.S. national women's coach.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The other soccer boot dropped for Greg Ryan Monday.

Ryan, considered a dead coach walking after the U.S.'s failure and disappointing third-place performance in last month's Women's World Cup, essentially was given the boot by U.S. Soccer and won't return to guide the team at the Beijing Olympics.

The option of Ryan's $175,000 contract, which expires Dec. 31, won't be picked up by U.S. Soccer.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said during a teleconference call that he plans to name a successor within 30-45 days, if not sooner, because the National Team starts training camp in January for February's Olympic qualifiers with the Beijing Summer Games a scant nine months away.

Gulati will head a three-person search committee that includes U.S. superstar and National Soccer Hall of Famer Mia Hamm and secretary general Dan Flynn.

Tony DiCicco, who directed the U.S. women to an Olympic gold medal (1996) and a WWC crown (1999), said he was interested in the position. DiCicco, under contract with the Boston team in the revived women's pro league that is scheduled to begin in 2009, said the team's management wouldn't stop him from pursuing the top job.

"It's a unique and special position in sports and obviously the best women's coaching position worldwide," he said.

Other candidates expected to be high on the list are former Boston Breakers coach, China assistant coach and Swedish native Pia Sundhage, U.S. Under-20 women's coach Jillian Ellis and Washington Freedom coach Jim Gabarra, the husband of former U.S. international Carin Gabarra.

Given the short period of time to name a coach, Gulati said that "it makes very hard for someone without any experience in the United States to be considered, not impossible."

Gulati wouldn't say whether Ryan's controversial decision to switch to goalkeeper Briana Scurry over Hope Solo and the ensuing fireworks -- Solo criticized the move and Scurry on TV -- and the resulting 4-0 semifinal loss to Brazil was the No. 1 factor in the decision not to retain the coach. But they all played an important part in Ryan's demise. The U.S. played well below expectations and Ryan made several confounding substitutions that left observers shaking their heads in disbelief.

"We weighed out everything that took place," he said. "I'm not going to point to anyone factor or individual decision. I'm not going to put a particuclar percentage on any decision."

Gulati later added: "We didn't perform as well as we could have in the tournament. . . . We have to get better to bring home all the colored medals everyone expects."

During his three-year tenure, Ryan had only one loss en route to a 41-1-9 record. But given the American women's glorious history -- two WWC titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals -- bronze medals are considered failure.

"The expectation is to compete for a gold medal virtually every time we're in competition," Gulati said.
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