U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Monday that Tom Sermanni being fired as U.S. women’s coach was not the result of losses at the Algarve Cup or of a player revolt, but was due to “underlying issues.”
Gulati said there were “three or four” reasons for Sermanni’s dismissal, listing a difference of opinions on where the team is headed along with having spoken to players and staff, as well as the poor results in Portugal being a third factor. Sermanni was fired Sunday after a 2-0 win over China. He leaves the helm with an 18-2-4 record in 15 months as coach.
“I think there’s been a longer period than just the Algarve,” Gulati said of the concerns he had regarding the U.S. women. “That may have brought some of the issues that were of concern to the forefront, or they had a public vehicle in terms of the results. But no, this wasn’t something that the entire process was over the last two weeks.”
[RELATED: Sermanni ‘completely blindsided’ by firing]
U.S. players were consulted throughout the process of evaluating Sermanni amid concerns, but the USSF president said players did not seek him out looking for change.
“Whenever we have changes or possible changes or directional changes – whatever you want to call it – with our national team program, we do that quite a bit. We talk to players, we talk to staff, we talk to people that observe the team and we also rely on our own assessment.”
Sermanni, meanwhile, remains as shocked as anyone.
“I wasn’t aware of any major issues around the place, and perhaps that was my lack of insight,” he told The Equalizer. “I don’t know; it wasn’t something that I had on the radar. I thought the team was headed in the right direction and we were building up a strong squad.”
Jill Ellis will serve as interim coach, beginning with Thursday’s game against China in San Diego. She is expected to be a top candidate for the job, although she removed her name from candidacy during the last search that produced Sermanni. Ellis previously served as interim coach between Sundhage and Sermanni, going 5-0-2.
Gulati offered a varying timeline for hiring a new coach, saying it could go several weeks or even stretch closer to summer.
Sermanni will return to his home in Los Angeles to talk to his wife about what’s next, but he said he doesn’t know and hasn’t yet thought about it. He laughed at the irony that Australia players recently revolted against coach Hesterine de Reus for being too strict, while he was fired in part for being too laid-back. Sermanni coached the Matildas from 1994-96 and again from 2005-12 before leaving for the U.S. job.
“The reality of a head coaching career is that tomorrow you could be out of a job and there might never be another job that props up for you. This is the first time in 25 years that I’ve ever been let go from a job. It’s a new experience for me.”
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