Tom Sermanni has been named the new head coach of the United States women’s soccer team, U.S. Soccer confirmed on Tuesday. Sermanni has been the coach of Australia since 2004 and was named Asia coach of the year in 2007. He will begin the U.S. job on Jan. 1, 2013. Jill Ellis will remain the interim coach for the final five matches of 2012.
Sermanni’s appointment comes as a slight surprise given the wealth of strong U.S. candidates with strong resumes.: Tony DiCicco, Paul Riley, Randy Waldrum, Erica Walsh and Steve Swanson were all either pursued or considered strong fits to continue the legacy that Pia Sundhage has left.
Sermanni, 58, is certainly qualified, but he faces the biggest challenge of his coaching career: Guiding the world’s No. 1 team to its first World Cup title in 16 years, come 2015. Surely Sermanni’s selling point to U.S. Soccer is his ability to develop youth; he guided a young Australian team to World Cup quarterfinal appearances in 2007 and 2011 and currently has the Matildas ranked No. 9 in the world.
“After an extensive search and interview process, we believe Tom Sermanni is the right person at the right time to lead our Women’s National Team,” said U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati. “He has the knowledge, experience and vision to take on the challenge of keeping our team at the top of the world. He has a tremendous passion for the game, knows the American players, understands our system and knows the process of preparing a team for a World Cup tournament. We’re tremendously excited to have him on board as we look forward to qualification for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.”
But many of questions will be asked by candidates and coaches around the country as to why an American – or a coach based in the U.S. – was not worthy of the job. It’s an opinion that heard quite often behind the scenes, that they U.S. should be led by someone in the U.S.
DiCicco delivered the last World Cup title in 1999 and until Swanson won the U-20 World Cup crown in September, DiCicco had delivered the last World Cup at any level when he led the U-20s to a championship in 2008.
Riley recently won back-to-back WPS coach of the year awards, Waldrum an NCAA national championship with Notre Dame in 2010 and Walsh, of course, was a top assistant to the very successful Sundhage.
But Sermanni can certainly claim a connection to these shores: He was an assistant coach for the Bay Area(/San Jose) CyberRays of WUSA before taking over as head coach of the New York Power in 2003. He has also coached against the U.S. numerous times and maintains regular contact with U.S. coaches, so he is certainly familiar with the on-goings Stateside.
Any coaching appointment would have come with questions; the verdict on right choice or wrong truthfully won’t be accurately determined until all is said and done in Canada three years from now. So sit tight on that.
What is an accurate snap judgement is the poor timing of this announcement, on the eve of the biggest hurricane to rock the Northeast (where some of the candidates live) in decades. Why this couldn’t wait a couple days, we don’t know.
Here is what Sermanni had to say about the prospect of the U.S. job before the start of two Australia matches against the U.S. in September:
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