Skip to content

U.S. sends coach Pia Sundhage out with lots of goals – and lots of kinds words, too

Sep 20, 2012, 10:27 AM EDT

Australia v United States Getty Images

If Pia Sundhage was a double-Gold Medal winning soccer coach, she was more like a triple-Gold Medal winning motivator. Figuratively speaking, of course.

The women of the U.S. national team loved playing for her and thrived under Sundhage’s infectious enthusiasm. Her players are prone to use words like “joy” and “spirit” when they speak of the woman whose happy and peppy ways were a stark contrast to the more dour Greg Ryan, who left the position when things went fairly sideways in 2007.

Sundhage finished her time in charge of the national team Wednesday night, as players sent their master motivator out the right way with a resounding 6-2 win over Australia.

Not long before kickoff, ESPNW posted a piece from Tobin Heath, one of the players who grew and thrived under Sundhage. (Heath, in fact, embodies the very type of player Sundhage is encouraging the United States to cultivate as things move forward, a technically gifted sort whose performance relies more on skill and wits than speed and athleticism.)

A short excerpt from Heath’s kind words about the coach  who brought her along:

Pia always, always, looks at the positives in any situation, and that has been a huge key to our success. We have such high expectations — in every game and in every tournament we’re expected to win — and her outlook helps us to deal with the pressure, and push ourselves to another level. Her enthusiasm is so evident in everything she does. She gets so excited when a player does something well, and she has never lost that passion. It’s pretty cool she loves the game that much.”

Last night’s win at a sold-out Dicks Sporting Goods Park outside of Denver set the punctuation mark on a five-year run that included those two Olympic Gold medals and a second-place finish at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Sundhage, who will now take over the women’s national team in her native Sweden, was 91-6-10 as United States coach.

Latest Posts
  1. Often mocked by fans, Wenger says Abou Diaby should command respect

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Diaby Getty Images

    Despite making just sixteen league appearances the last three years, the Gunners manager says Diaby should be commended for his perseverance.

  2. Report: Obafemi Martins close to Seattle extension and raise

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    Martins AP

    Seattle’s lethal striker is set to cap the best year of his career with a new deal and a raise.

  3. Carlos Tevez still can’t get into the Argentinian national team

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    Tevez AP

    The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the Argentinian side since 2011 when he missed a crucial penalty in a shootout with Uruguay.

  4. Great flop or greatest flop? German player executes ridiculous dive

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Siegert Getty Images

    A dive to end all dives gave the German third division some notoriety.

  5. Fans of Brazilian club throw rocks at team bus after huge loss

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    Palmeiras Getty Images

    Things have gone horribly wrong for storied Brazilian club Palmeiras this year, and fans are making their feelings known.

  6. DC United extends Ben Olsen’s contract after bounceback season

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Olsen Getty Images

    The two sides agreed on a multi-year deal as Olsen calls DC United “my family and identity.”

  7. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Which 11 players stood out above the rest in Week 5? Find out, here.

  8. Former player accuses ousted Fulham manager Magath of insane cheese story

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Magath Getty Images

    According to a pair of former players, the old Fulham manager told Brede Hangeland to rub his knee with cheese to reduce inflammation.

  9. Premier League Download: Tale of the newly-promoted teams

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Leonardo Ulloa AP

    What are Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers all about? Our analysts break it down.

  10. Premier League player of the week – Round 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    Lampard AP

    Who was crowned the best player of the week in the PL?

  11. VIDEO: Watch the top five Premier League goals – Week 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    ManchesterUnited AP

    Which five goals were the best? Pick your best from two chips, a scissor kick, a belter and a curler.

  12. League Cup preview: Five all-Premier League ties await in third round

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Gunners and Saints clash, as the third round of the League Cup takes place this week.

  13. FIFA Executive: “The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not happen”

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

    Theo Zwanziger AP

    Zwanziger: “Medics say they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”

  14. VIDEO: Men In Blazers analyze the many faces of Louis van Gaal

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Men In Blazers - Sept. 22

    Joining the NBC Sports crew from the crap part of SoHo, the MiB break down van Gaal’s topsy-turvy day.

  15. Criminal? FIFA’s report into alleged 2018, 2022 World Cup corruption not public

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter AP

    A report documenting FIFA’s internal investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption will not be published.

  16. Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy out for three months

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Gunners defensive woes compounded as Debuchy will be out for over three months.

  17. Premier League Playback: Legendary Lampard strikes, United’s shambolic implosion

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the incredible storylines from the PL during Week 5.

  18. Men in Blazers podcast: A Night of 1,000 Stars

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    IMG_9209_edit_facebook

    Rog and Davo welcomed guest after guest for a very special pod.

  19. Manuel Pellegrini accuses Chelsea of being a “small team”

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EDT

    Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Pellegrini on City’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea: “I think we played 90 minutes against a small team trying to defend.”

  20. Report: Sami Khedira to seal $20 million Arsenal move in January

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:32 AM EDT

    sami_khedira Getty Images

    German midfielder would be exactly what Arsenal need. Will he arrive in January?

Featured video

Week 5: Top five Premier League goals