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. Stars of CONCACAF: Ranking the top 10 players at the 2015 Gold Cup

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    As we gear up for a massive Gold Cup tournament, here’s a look at the superstars who will be on show in the United States of America.

  2. Done Deals: Swansea sign Eder, Douglas to Bayern, Martinez to Atletico and more

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session Getty Images

    With the summer transfer window officially open, plenty of deals have started to trickle through. Here’s a roundup of the latest.

  3. VIDEO: Abby Wambach wants Japan in World Cup final for “fairytale ending”

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    USA v Germany: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 USA v Germany: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

    USWNT legend Wambach joins the Dan Patrick show to preview the Women’s World Cup final.

  4. World Cup semifinal preview: Defending champs Japan take on England

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    England v Canada Quarter Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Getty Images

    Can the Three Lionesses cause another upset to set up a clash with the USA in the final?

  5. Radamel Falcao’s family claim he has sealed transfer to Chelsea

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Colombian forward is inching towards a move to Stamford Bridge.

  6. Julie Johnston hails USWNT’s resilience, togetherness after reaching World Cup final

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    FBL-WC-2015-WOMEN-MATCH49-USA-GER FBL-WC-2015-WOMEN-MATCH49-USA-GER

    After giving away a PK in a pivotal moment of the USWNT’s World Cup semifinal, Johnston thanked her teammates for their support.

  7. VIDEO: Watch Lionel Messi embarrass Paraguay defenders to lead Argentina rout

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    The little magician grabbed three assists and carved open Paraguay’s defense time and time again. Sublime.

  8. PHOTOS: Rayo Vallecano unveil jersey aimed to fight homophobia, pay tribute to “unsung heroes”

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT

    Source: @RVMOficial Source: @RVMOficial

    Spanish club reveal snazzy new jerseys with plenty of meaning behind them. Check out the rainbow inspired get-up, here.

  9. “Angel Di Maria has most talent at Manchester United,” says teammate. Agree?

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Despite Di Maria’s stop-start debut campaign at Old Trafford, the Argentine international still has the backing of his teammates.

  10. VIDEO: Breaking down the done deals and transfer gossip in PST Extra

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    PST Extra - July 1

    Joe Prince-Wright dissects the big deals of the summer so far and takes a look at the latest transfer gossip doing the rounds.

  11. Liverpool complete $20 million signing of Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton

    Jul 1, 2015, 7:10 AM EDT

    Clyne Getty Images

    England international right back Clyne has signed a long-term deal at Anfield.

  12. Amid all the noise, United States coach Jill Ellis got the tactics right on Tuesday

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:12 AM EDT

    150630 Ellis Getty Images

    Jill Ellis takes a lot of criticism, but she got it right again on Tuesday, moves that got the U.S. into the World Cup final.

  13. Dos Santos rumors show us what the “core player” can mean to growing MLS

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:50 PM EDT

    Felipe Baloy, Giovani Dos Santos AP

    It’ll be an interesting story to follow as it unfolds across American soccer’s top flight.

  14. Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup roundup: Union, Orlando, Chicago move on as Charlotte bounced

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT

    Orlando City's Kaka moves the ball against the Columbus Crew at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday, June 30, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. City won, 2-0, in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) Getty Images

    For 32 glorious minutes, we thought there was a good chance we’d see a third-tier side in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s quarterfinals.

  15. Three things learned: United States advances over Germany in epic Women’s World Cup semifinal

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:47 PM EDT

    USA v Germany: Semi-Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Getty Images

    The United States played its best soccer in two years with a victory over Germany in an epic win over Germany.

  16. Did Landon Donovan throw shade at Jurgen Klinsmann with celebratory USWNT Tweet?

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:03 PM EDT

    during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Semi Final match between USA and Germany at Olympic Stadium on June 30, 2015 in Montreal, Canada. Getty Images

    Either Landon Donovan is emotionally removed from last summer’s World Cup roster omission drama, or the USMNT legend just passive-aggressively lashed out at former coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

  17. Argentina 6-1 Paraguay: La Albiceleste thump Los Guaraníes to set up blockbuster final vs Chile

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT

    Argentina's defender Marcos Rojo (2-L) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Paraguay during their Copa America semifinal football match in Concepcion, Chile on June 30, 2015.    AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    There will be a blockbuster final to the Copa America, as Argentina thumped Paraguay to cruise to the final.

  18. With the World Cup on the line, the USWNT gave us a vintage performance to savor

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:21 PM EDT

    USA's midfielder Carli Lloyd (R) fights for the ball with Germany's defender Saskia Bartusiak during their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal match at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on June 30, 2015.    AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    With one brilliant 90-minute performance, the United States reasserted itself as the best team in the world.

  19. United States defeats Germany, advances to Women’s World Cup final

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    lloydscores Getty Images

    The U.S. is headed to the final for the fourth time in seven tournaments.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip