December 29, 2008
THE YEAR’S BEST—No. 3
Sundhage gets four more years
Former Boston Breakers head coach Pia Sundhage got what she deserved—a new four-year contract to run the U.S. Women’s National Team.
|Former Breakers coach Pia Sundhage got a four year deal after leading the U.S. to Olympic Gold.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Sundhage, 48, has led the U.S. to a record setting 33 wins this year (33-1-2), including a memorable run to the Olympic championship, culminating in a gold medal victory over Brazil in Beijing, China.
“Pia has demonstrated the qualities of a great leader, a great soccer tactician and she is a winner,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “We are extremely happy to have her on board for the next cycle of the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics and will be looking forward to seeing the Women’s National Team program grow under her direction for the next four years.”
Hired in November 2007, Sundhage (pronounced Soond-hahg-Eh) went to work immediately, preparing the team for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying and the 2008 Olympic Games. The U.S. won all five of the tournaments in which it participated during 2008, including the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, the Algarve Cup in March in Portugal, the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in April, the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea in June and the Olympic Games in August.
At the Olympics, Sundhage’s team accomplished something never before done in U.S. history, rebounding from an opening-game loss to earn the Olympic gold medal.
“We’ve done so many things in a short amount of time and been successful so far,” Sundhage said in a statement. “The reason it is so exciting to continue with this team is that I can see the potential. Last January, we started talking about keeping possession and finding the rhythm and I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far, but these next steps will be about going into the attacking third and being even more unpredictable, playing more beautiful soccer and scoring more goals. With this team spirit, the American culture, and the American way, we can make that happen in the coming years.”
Sundhage coached in the Women’s United Soccer Association in all three years of its existence, serving as the top assistant for the Philadelphia Charge in 2001 and 2002 before taking over as coach of the Breakers in 2003. She led the Breakers, a team that had not made the playoffs in its first two seasons, to the regular season championship and its first playoff berth.