Gulati addresses firing of USWNT head coach Sermanni

There was no player mutiny, nor major blowup that caused the firing of U.S. Women’s National Team coach Tom Sermanni. It was simply time to move on.

That was the message from U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, who addressed the media about the Federation’s decision Monday afternoon.

“There is no specific event,” Gulati insisted. “Both Dan [Flynn] and I think very highly of Tom.

“This was thought out,” he continued. “It’s the end of a process that concludes with a decision, but it was not a hasty process.”

You can hardly blame anyone for assuming the worst in this situation. Mere hours after Sermanni guided the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 2-0 victory over China in a friendly Sunday evening, the USSF fired the Scottish coach in a shocking late night announcement.

Speaking to Soccer by Ives, even Sermanni admits he wasn’t ready for the news.

“It came as a surprise to me – I’ll be honest,” he explains. “I didn’t perceive that there were issues – I didn’t feel that within the playing group. But maybe my perception let me down and things happened that I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t sense the players weren’t on board with the direction that we were trying to go in, but perhaps I was wrong.

“I was surprised by the decision, I can’t deny that, but I’m not walking away angry with it. That happens in soccer. I was surprised with it because I did genuinely feel that we were moving in the right direction.”

Gulati was not surprised by Sermanni’s apparent surprise over the move. In fact, he conceded that he and Sermanni only spoke once since the team’s failings in the Algarve Cup and understood how the coach may have felt about the situation.

Gulati did, however, cite three major criteria in his decision to fire Sermanni. First, he explained the dismissal came as a “subject of evaluation of where the team is going and heading.” Next, Gulati cited talks with “players and staff” amongst other individuals around the team. Lastly, he brought up the USWNT’s abysmal performance at last month’s Algarve Cup.

“Standards for this team are very high,” he admitted.

While he stopped at those three criteria, he did let on another possible reason for the decision. Sermanni is known as a laid back character; a 180 degree change from former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage. Personalities, as well as direction, could have contributed further to Sermanni’s dismissal

“Tom does have a unique style and Pia’s is very different,” Gulati explained. “The demand from all of us in the Women’s program and the women’s team fits well with certain styles and not so well with other styles.

“It’s important the collective buy into the direction and how you are moving forward and we had some concerns there.”

For now, Gulati is content with leaving the team in the hands of U.S. Soccer Director of Development Jill Ellis, who will serve as interim coach. “Jill can make a strong candidate for any job in our program,” he said. “We think very highly of Jill.” So highly, in fact, that she was in the running for the open coaching candidacy that eventually went to Sundhage. Ellis, Gulati said, took herself out of the running for it.

Gulati did not offer a timeline for a new coach. Instead he chose to continuously praise the work of Sermanni during his short tenure at the helm.

“He is an absolute class guy.”


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