Nov. 12, 2007
By Michael Lewis
Sweden’s Sundhage to coach U.S. women
In U.S. Soccer's second historic move within three weeks, Swede Pia Sundhage will become the first foreigner to coach the U.S. Women's National Team, according to sources in the American soccer community.
|Former Breakers head coach Pia Sundhage will become the first foreigner to coach the U.S. women's national team.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
U.S. Soccer will hold a conference call Tuesday afternoon to announce Sundhage's appointment.
On Oct. 25, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati named the first Hispanic to guide a U.S. youth national team in ex-B.W. Gottschee coach and former Colombian international defender Wilmer Cabrera as the U.S. Under-17 National Team head.
Sundhage, 47, will replace Greg Ryan, whose contract was not renewed after the U.S.'s dismal third-place finish at the recent Women's World Cup. That announcement was made Oct. 22.
Sundhage most recently was the assistant coach of the Chinese women's national side.
She will definitely have China on her mind when she gathers the team for training in January as it prepares for the Olympic qualifying for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. The qualifiers are expected to be held in February.
She scouted for the U.S. at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and guided the Boston Breakers in the old Women's United Soccer Association.
Sundhage will become the second woman to guide the team. April Heinrichs directed the Americans from 2000 through 2004, finishing third at the 2003 WWC while taking a silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a gold at the Athens Summer Games.
Sundhage is the all-time leading international goal-scorer in Sweden history, finding the back of the net 71 times in 146 games. She helped Sweden to a third-place finish at the 1991 WWC in China.
Sundhage interviewed for the U.S. women's position in 2005 during the tenure of U.S. Soccer president Dr. Bob Contiguglia, who picked Ryan instead.
Gulati was head of the search committee, which included U.S. Soccer general secretary Dan Flynn, former U.S. women’s superstar Mia Hamm.
Ryan sealed his fate as coach when, in a controversial move, he decided to replace regular goalkeeper Hope Solo with veteran Briana Scurry for the semifinal match with Brazil. Scurry was 12-0 vs. the South American side, but hadn't played a full game since a 2-0 victory over Brazil at Giants Stadium June 23.
This time, however, the Brazilians rolled to a 4-0 triumph over the U.S. Solo compounded the controversy and drama by criticizing Ryan and Scurry to the media. She was banned from the team for the rest of the tournament, although she later apologized.
Former U.S. women's national coach Tony DiCicco, who guided the Americans to an Olympic gold medal (1996) and a world championship (1999) was among the finalists for the position.
Gulati would not comment on the announcement.