Skip to content

With friendlies over, USWNT begins search for a lot of what it already had

Apr 11, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT

Jill Ellis AP

With Thursday’s ill-timed friendly out of the way — a 3-0 victory over China in a result that was never in doubt — the focus of the United States women’s national team is now solely on finding a new coach.

Tom Sermanni’s abrupt firing on Sunday night shortly after the United States’ first victory over the week of China left the team in disarray. Sermanni, who was 18-2-4 as U.S. coach, said he was “completely blindsided” by the news. Midfielder Carli Lloyd said she and other players were “as shocked as everyone was.” And U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati only vaguely alluded to “underlying issues” being the reason for Sermanni’s demise, noting that it was a “style” issue.

Details remain elusive. But players will now quickly board flights to catch up with their National Women’s Soccer League teams for the opening of the 2014 season this weekend, and they won’t meet again as a U.S. team until the days ahead of their May 8 match against Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

That gives Gulati and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, along with whomever may be assisting in the process, a month to dig in on the search without any distractions of on-field performances. Gulati admitted Monday that the process could stretch into the summertime.

What kind of coach the United States women really want remains about as vague as what went wrong for Sermanni. The candidate is almost certainly going to come from within the small group of coaches extremely familiar with the team and the player pool, given the short, 14-month buildup to the World Cup.

Lloyd told NBC Sports  as much on Tuesday, saying that the players have faith in U.S. Soccer bringing in someone ready for the job.

“I’m sure it’s not going to be somebody who has no idea about our team and the players. I think it would most definitely be somebody who has got to be familiar with the system, the pool to make that transition a little bit easy.”

Lloyd proceeded to tell NBC Sports postgame that “this team just needs somebody to steer us in the right direction.”

Heather O’Reilly said in Thursday’s pregame show that the U.S. women need a coach who can “that’s going to blend this team — blend the old, blend the new,” she said:

What’s ironic is that Sermanni did exactly that: He brought in and developed young talent while still evaluating how his squad could look in 2015, where anything short of a World Cup title will be a failure. The very objectives that U.S. Soccer officials and players seek are some of the core philosophies of Sermanni, which is why he was hired in the first place. An eye on winning now and an eye on development. A win, two losses and a draw at the Algarve Cup didn’t help Sermanni, but Gulati says it was about more than that week gone wrong in Portugal last month.

Sermanni was too laid back, it keeps being said, but laid back isn’t the right way to put it. His predecessor, Pia Sundhage, was laid back, just in a very different, more upbeat and care-free sort of way. But she was also very clear that her team was her team, and changes would be made only by necessity or extremely poor performance (which didn’t even really happen after the U.S. nearly failed to qualify for the World Cup).

So it seems that what U.S. Soccer really wants is someone to stamp some authority into a team that already has an overflow of talent. They want disciplinarian with a clear, firm message on what he or she envisions for the team. As NBCSN analyst Kate Markgraf says below, the shortlist at this point is likely current Tyresö boss and former U.S. assistant (under Sundhage) Tony Gustavsson, plus Portland Thorns FC coach Paul Riley and Houston Dash coach Randy Waldrum, both of whom said on Tuesday that they think it’s possible to coach club and country at the same time, effectively tossing their names into the hat. Both were finalists for the U.S. job in fall 2012.

And then there’s current interim coach Jill Ellis (pictured above), who improved to 6-0-2 as temporary U.S. boss with Thursday’s win after also guiding the team in fall 2012. Last time around, when Sermanni was ultimately hired, Ellis withdrew her name from consideration. Ex-U.S. assistant and Penn State coach Erica Walsh could also be in the mix.

At the end of the day, the basic ideals the U.S. Soccer officials and the women’s national team players are looking for were all right there with Sermanni. What’s really desired is a personality that fits with the squad, and an authority to manage the world’s No. 1 team for six years running.

Latest Posts
  1. Reports: Arsenal to fork over $26 mil for Manchester United’s Welbeck

    Sep 1, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer England AP

    Not a huge risk for Arsenal, but certainly a good bit of business for United. Could Welbeck become the next Daniel Sturridge?

  2. Deadline Day Transfer Rumor Roundup: 11th hour edition

    Sep 1, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT

    1409570021796_wps_117_BURNLEY_ENGLAND_AUGUST_30 Getty Images

    Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck and Hatem Ben Arfa all make one last run through the rumor mill as the deadline draws near.

  3. Done Deal: Daley Blind is officially a member of Manchester United

    Sep 1, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

    _77314123_bwejvymimaacber

    The Dutch international rejoins his World Cup boss for four seasons at “the biggest club in the world.”

  4. Radamel Falcao’s heavy cost to Manchester United is in wages, not fee

    Sep 1, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT

    Falcao AP

    What originally was thought to be a steal is turning out to be quite a hit to Manchester United’s wallet.

  5. Confirmed AC Milan swap deal for Jonathan Biabiany now suddenly off

    Sep 1, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

    Biabiany Getty Images

    AC Milan made the terrible mistake of confirming a deal before it was complete, and now they’re forced to rescind their confirmation.

  6. Stoke want to keep USA’s Geoff Cameron, Southampton in the hunt

    Sep 1, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Harry Kane, Geoff Cameron AP

    Time running out for U.S. national team star to seal his move away from Stoke.

  7. Tottenham Hotspur offer $26 million plus Andros Townsend for Jay Rodriguez

    Sep 1, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    350x AP

    Spurs could be back in for Rodriguez, as third bid made for England international.

  8. Reports place Welbeck at Arsenal’s training ground, but that’s because so is England

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

    Photo credit: Squawka Photo credit: Squawka

    Reports are exploding that Welbeck’s location lends itself to a shock move to Arsenal, but we’re not so sure.

  9. Burnley sign young Chelsea midfielder Nathan Chalobah on loan

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

    Chalobah Getty Images

    It’s the fourth loan spell for Chalobah, who will get his first taste of Premier League play.

  10. Hull City breaks club transfer record to sign Abel Hernandez

    Sep 1, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

    Hernandez Getty Images

    A fee of around $15 million breaks Hull City’s transfer record for a player.

  11. Julian Green completes loan move to Hamburg

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

    Green Getty Images

    A season-long move to last year’s relegation threatened squad will see Green get valuable playing experience.

  12. Fiorentina announce Giuseppe Rossi will undergo more knee surgery

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT

    Rossi Getty Images

    The 27-year-old midfielder can’t catch a break, as his knee fails him yet again.

  13. Reports: Sandro having a medical at QPR and fee agreed for Borini

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT

    Sandro AP

    Down the depth chart at Spurs, Sandro could be on his way to QPR. Borini would be a backup plan to Jermain Defoe.

  14. Premier League Playback – Deadline Day madness, Chelsea’s ‘killers,’ Liverpool’s fluid-three

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from Week 3 in the PL.

  15. LIVE Transfer Ticker – Deadline Day updates

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Stay up to date with everything happening on Deadline Day with our live ticker.

  16. Report: Marco Verratti to sign new PSG contract

    Sep 1, 2014, 9:39 AM EDT

    Verratti

    Rumored to be wanted by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, the young Italian star will instead stay at his current home.

  17. Transfer Rumor Roundup: Deadline Day Morning edition

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT

    Alderweireld Getty Images

    There’s going to be plenty of movement today, and the early morning brings us news on Jay Rodriguez, Alvaro Negred, Matija Nastasic, and more.

  18. Reports: Manchester United nearing cut-price loan for Falcao

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:55 AM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Manchester United are reportedly close to securing a world-class striker for just $9 million.

Featured video

Week 3: Saturday Premier League recap