Gulati sheds light on Sermanni firing

Sunil Gulati

 By CAITLIN MURRAY

In the hours after Tom Sermanni had been fired Sunday from his job as U.S. Women’s National Team coach, the soccer world was stunned. Fans, media and Sermanni himself were all caught by surprise.

And then the speculation began that a player mutiny must’ve been behind the decision. But U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati rejected suggestions of a revolt Monday – even as he declined to specify if any players had approached the federation with concerns or how large of a role player input had in the decision.

“I don’t want to get into specifics of who reached out to whom and so on, but we’ve had discussions with players, with staff, with people around the team, and observed ourselves,” Gulati said in a conference call with reporters. “This isn’t a group of players coming to seek us out and saying there’s something wrong.”

Gulati added that players were consulted in making the decision, but there is always an ongoing conversation between the federation and its senior national team players, although those talks are “sometimes at a higher decibel than other times.”

“This wasn’t a collective group of players coming to us and saying we have to make a change,” he said. “Absolutely not.”

The other bit of popular speculation, however, turns out to be true – the USWNT’s poor performance at last month’s Algarve Cup played a role in Sermanni’s ouster.

The USWNT opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw to Japan and then it went downhill from there.

The USWNT snapped a 43-game unbeaten streak in a 1-0 loss against Sweden, coached by Pia Sundhage, who Sermanni replaced when she left the U.S. for her homeland. Then, the USWNT allowed a record five goals in a 5-3 loss to Denmark – marking the first time since 2001 the USWNT had lost two games in a row.

The process of evaluating Sermanni’s performance and spotting concerns happened before the Algarve Cup, Gulati said, but the tournament seemed to be a tipping point.

“The Algarve Cup obviously, in terms of the actual results, didn’t go the way we wanted,” Gulati said. “It’s been a long time since the U.S. team lost two games in a row or went three without winning. So, that may have brought some of the issues that were of concern to the forefront.”

The timing of Sermanni’s dismissal was somewhat peculiar. The Algarve Cup had ended almost a month before Sermanni was fired. Instead, Sermanni was fired immediately after a 2-0 victory as part of a two-game domestic set against China.

But Gulati said the decision was part of an ongoing process and the result of Sunday’s China match didn’t affect the decision.

“There was no specific event. Both Dan (Flynn) and I think very highly of Tom on a personal level and professional level, so there’s nothing like that whatsoever,” Gulati said of suggestions something had happened forcing a quick removal. “While these decisions always end up coming down and being announced in a specific moment, this has been a process for us in assessing things, watching the team perform and talking to people over time.”

Sermanni had started as head coach in January 2013 with a contract through 2016 and posted an overall record of 18-2-4.

Speaking to SBI after the dismissal, Sermanni said he was caught off guard. Asked if he had been made aware U.S. Soccer had concerns, he said he never thought he didn’t have the federation’s support.

“It came as a surprise to me. I’ll be honest,” Sermanni told SBI by phone Sunday night. “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.”

But Gulati hinted Sermanni should’ve sensed what was coming, even if problems hadn’t been specifically flagged to Sermanni in the lead-up to the dismissal.

“Conversations specifically about X, Y or Z, or ‘We need to change A, B or C’ – did that happen? The answer is no, not in the last few weeks,” Gulati said. “We did have one conversation between Algarve and now. So, I certainly understand Tom’s comments on that.”

“I think he also made some comments that he should’ve seen those issues.”

Gulati declined to describe conversations that had taken place prior to the firing that might’ve outlined specific concerns with Sermanni’s vision.

“I’m not going to get into any previous discussions we may have had with him along the way,” Gulati said. “I think except in situations where a change like this is immediate and event-based – a loss or some other issue based on an event or an episode – there’s always an element of surprise. And that was the case here.”

With the 2015 World Cup looming next summer and qualifiers this October, Gulati said the process to find Sermanni’s replacement has already begun with “a very short list” of candidates being considered.

Director of Development Jill Ellis, who had served as head coach in the interim before Sermanni started, will again fill in when the USWNT plays their second match in the China set on Thursday. Ellis had removed herself from consideration for the permanent job last time around, but Gulati said he had not spoken with her about the position again.

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66 Responses to Gulati sheds light on Sermanni firing

  1. Jack Del says:

    I buy that.

    The Algarve Cup was an absolute embarrassment. 40+ game winning streak turns into not winning in 3 straight games.

    I think the wait caused the most shock really–unless it was to line up another coach.

    • JoeW says:

      The title to this article is a little misleading and Jack Del, you’ve reached the wrong conclusion:

      Here are direct quotes from Gulati:
      “There has been a longer period than just the Algarve. It’s been a long time since the U.S. team lost two in a row. That may have brought some of the issues of concern to the forefront. But no, this wasn’t something over the past two weeks.”
      –in other words, Gulati is saying that it was not specifically b/c of the Algarve results b/c the issues predated the competition.

      Or this quote: “It’s probably three or four things. One of those is the evaluation of where the team is going. Two is, talking with people in and around the team. And whenever we have changes or possible changes or directional changes, we talk to players, we talk to staff, we talk to people who have observed the team and we rely on our own assessment. Third, the results at the Algarve Cup weren’t what we hoped for. The standards for this team are very high. That doesn’t mean one loss or even two losses would necessitate or push us toward a change.” In other words, Gulati is specifically saying that one or two losses isn’t sufficient to produce this decision.

      The Algarve cup matters. And Gulati said it was a factor in the decision. But it wasn’t even the first thing that Gulati mentioned. He tried to tamp down the talk of a mutiny. But when you’ve got Morgan and Wambach publicly talking about player unhappiness with Sermanni and Gulati saying that the issues predated Algarve, it’s not quite accurate to say that he was fired primarily b/c of the cup results.

      • Jack Del says:

        Nah, sorry. I haven’t reached the wrong conclusion and the article title is not misleading.

        ““The Algarve Cup obviously, in terms of the actual results, didn’t go the way we wanted,” Gulati said. “It’s been a long time since the U.S. team lost two games in a row or went three without winning. So, that may have brought some of the issues that were of concern to the forefront.””

        Pretty clearly stating that the performance at the Algarve Cup was the catalyst that forced USSF to address the concerns players and administrators had about the direction of the team.

        • JoeW says:

          Jack Del,
          1. You notice that the title of the article has now changed? it doesn’t say that Gulati says Sermanni was fired b/c of the Algarve performance.
          2. I agree, EVERYONE agrees (including Sermanni) that the Algarve cup didn’t go the way the US wanted. But you take that statement by Gulati and conclude that’s why Sermanni was canned. Gulati specifically was asked if Sermanni was fired b/c of the Algarve cup results and he said “The standards for this team are very high. That doesn’t mean one loss or even two losses would necessitate or push us toward a change.”

          • Jack Del says:

            The original title said “tied to.”

          • Caitlin Murray says:

            The title was changed for length, nothing more. We also removed the part that said it wasn’t a player mutiny.

            My report only ever said the Algarve Cup played a role, not that it was the sole reason. It was, however, the most concrete reason Gulati offered.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Maybe it reflects some stubborn quality of Gulati where he perseverates and does things on his own schedule. Algarve pretty well stunk so it’s like what took you so long? Why not have these China games under a new head? Well, perhaps he wasn’t going to just run out and do it the day players came calling, and it was obvious, he has to study, etc. His role is aggrandized. Reminds me of McNair waiting endless weeks to pull the trigger on Kubiak, while the season circles the drain.

      The parallel I’d see is bringing Klinsi in, balking at the money, refusing to make that deal, Bradley has a poor year, now he’s ready to pay, makes the same switch he could have made in 2010. The choice of manager seems to be so personal to Gulati, and done on some other calendar than the progression of matches the fans watch, that it seems self involved. They start the quali tournament in October. If the guy discredits himself at Algarve, you don’t give it one more game and then oddly yank the plug after a win, you get a new manager for the spring friendlies and let him or her start leaving their mark. But that’s if the team is coming ahead of the executive focusing on his process.

      • Jack Del says:

        In his defense, it was barely a win. We outshot them something like 23 or 25 to 1… and only scored 2 goals.

  2. KingGoogleyEye says:

    Well, there you have it folks, from the most trusted and admired person in all of US soccer.

  3. Vasco says:

    Not buying it Sunil. Just not buying it. Mutiny makes more sense, than your story

    When you experiment, you will lose some games. You let the players run the show, and you will have embarrassments. Sunil, you just sealed the deal. Better hope it isn’t qualifying when it occurs.

    • Jack Del says:

      Embarrassing was the Algarve cup–where we lost back to back games for the first time in 13 years and had the worst defensive performance in USWNT history.

      That’s embarrassing.

      • EspinDOHla says:

        Yes, it’s terribly embarrassing trying out a bunch of new players at a (relatively) meaningless tournament…come on Jack.

        Tell me this, what would you prefer:

        1) taking the rapidly aging USWNT team to Canada next year and Brazil the year after that and getting beat down in “slightly” bigger tournaments than the Algarve Cup while trying out the newbies in friendlies against women’s soccer powerhouses like Russia.

        OR

        2) Getting “embarrassed” at the Algarve Cup while trying out the newbies against the real soccer powerhouses like Japan, Germany, etc and getting a better assessment of their abilities which, in the long run, will benefit the USWNT much more in the near future at the tournaments that are slightly bigger like the Olympics and World Cup.

        Sure, it would be better to slowly ease the new players in but how many opportunities does the US team get to play against the best teams in the world?? The Algarve Cup was a great opportunity to do so.

        • CW in LA says:

          Maybe there’s a middle ground? Getting shelled by Denmark is pretty bad, regardless of who’s in the lineup.

          Not that I’m necessarily taking Gulati’s statements at face value. And the timing is really weird.

          • EspinDOHla says:

            I hear ya. I wish there was a more middle ground.

            I just don’t think that you can learn much about players in 5-0 thrashings that are the USWNT lay on their lesser opponents who they often play in friendlies. Sure, there are some more meaningful match-ups peppered in and that helps.

            I just don’t think it’s “embarrassing” getting thrashed in the Algarve Cup when you are trying out knew things. I’d much rather it happen there than at the World Cup or Olympics.

        • Emma says:

          I was at this year’s Algarve Cup and what I saw was USWNT Coach Tom Sermanni in a nutshell:
          I watched all the US-games, lots of others plus US-practices.
          I saw a polite and friendly Tom Sermanni who obviously was totally in over his head.
          Want to learn about the younger players, want to tinker with new concepts, want to try special packages? Go ahead, results be damned! That’s what Algarve Cup is for. AND that is, what every other team there did.
          Problem one: USWNT looked awfully ugly against teams in exactly the same experiment-mode, not in World-Cup mode!
          Problem two: TS obviously had no concept, no plan for experiments, rotated his players in and out obviously with the help of the wheel of fortune.
          Players seemed brainwashed NOT to shoot on goal, only play for possession, which looked completely awkward, led to endless useless passing-plays sideways and backwards and the players frustration visibly mounted. Then in the waning minutes of lost games caution was thrown in the wind, shooting hysterically and from all angles and distances – a sight between hilarious and ridiculous. My highlight was sending in Wambach and Hagen at the same time – panic move, not practiced, two strikers trying not to run over each other in desperation time.
          After each game an unfazed TS spoke of „having dominated the games statistically“, of “should have, would have” and seemed perfectly fine with his creations of mayhem. Complete denial – worse, laughably incompetent. Consequently he was „totally blindsided“ by his firing, though he said to the fans „See you next vear … if I am still coaching the team then“.
          I am happy that this embarassment of a coaching era is over.
          Hopefully the next Coach gets to know his players and their strengths – something TS never managed to do in his year as Coach – and forms a TEAM in time for the WC qualifiers!

          • cathy raycroft says:

            Its great to get some thoughtful insight from someone who was there. It’s a point of view that you can’t get from TV. thank you.

        • cathy raycroft says:

          He took a world class team in their prime and broke their morale by making them audition for their own jobs. The players over 30 have been grooming their replacements for a while. A tournament is never the time for a new cap while proven superstars are on the bench(Heath, KO, Krieger). There was no need for so many roster changes going into qualifying. Its always good to plan for the future but not by going back to square one. We are #1 in the world because these women earned it through years of hard work, they should not be paid back with a spot on the bench.

          • Zocklo says:

            I looked at Germany’s 20 woman roster for next months WC qualifier—7 were 21 years old or younger, 9 were 22 yo or younger.
            Germany looks to future, getting young talent major tournament experience,
            The USWNT is stuck playing the old war horses.

            Where do you think Germany will be 4 years from now? Where will the U.S be?

            • cathy raycroft says:

              We have a very strong U-20 program that is bringing up the next generation of players. Sydney and Alex were slowly intergrated into the team not thrown in. I’m not surprised or sad that sermani is gone. Since when does the USA care what Germany does? Women don’t age out the same way men do, women peak later in life. Pia’s record speaks for itself and sermani is gone so someone at the top would agree with me.

              • The Garrincha says:

                You Know Cathy Ray.
                I got 5 things Pia did wrong that lost the WC.
                1. Not starting Sauerbrunn or actually playing her much at all.
                Best defender was on the bench.
                2. Not starting Morgan. She did great as a sub, but she was already clearly the second if not the first best attacking option.
                3. Sydney Leroux, Should have been there with Morgan much like Beasely and Donovan back in 02. Leroux would have been an absolute terror as a sub with her speed and finishing even back then.
                4. Rapinoe, should have been played more and at more opportune times.
                5. Order for the PK Shootout which off course was lost, was way out of whack.

          • JoeW says:

            Except both Heath and O’Hara were playing hurt during the Algarve. And Krieger did play, she just didn’t start every game. And the defense for the Denmark match was a veteran backline.

            I’ve never said that Sermanni is a great coach. Maybe he was coaching poorly, maybe members of the team quit on him. But this claim that he was starting reams of inexperienced players in the Algarve doesn’t match up. In fact, against Sweden, the veteran frontline of Wambach and A-Rod underperformed compared to the subs of Press and Engen.

            We need to stop talking about being #1 in the world–that’s a crap measure (i.e.: the FIFA rankings). The US Women are absolutely one of the top 5 teams in the world–we’re a world power and a threat in any tournament we show up at. We’re also the best funded, best organized and best prepared team in the world and we fatten up our record in off-years agains countries that barely field teams. But in WCs, the US won the inaugural WC and then other than winning a PK shoot-out on home turf, we haven’t won another. That doesn’t sound like the #1 team in the world. Every other WC other than the first one in China, there has been arguably at least one other team that looked better then the US over the whole tournament.

          • recovered amishman says:

            Sorry, but the veteran squad you speak of is in tatters. In the US WNT set-up. having players groom their own replacements is a clear conflict of interest. They have no interest in being replaced, only in keeping their very valuable spot on the roster. Their interest is to maintain the status quo. It took Alex Morgan saving their bacon in multiple games in the last world cup before she was even allowed to sniff the starting lineup. How crazy was that?

            • cathy raycroft says:

              Wambach and Rampone have already said that this will be their last tournament and they have been MENTORING Sydney Alex and Becky for years. Dunn and Press will be part of many games in the future. This teams strength has always been their ability to move on the field as a single synchronized unit. They know where their fellow team mates are at all times. Its beautiful to watch, they can’t gel as a team with new players every other day.

              • recovered amishman says:

                If they are limiting the playing time of those younger players, they are not mentoring them, they are impeding their growth and ability to be ready when the time comes. Mentoring would involve helping them prepare, then watching from the sidelines and talking with them afterwards about how to improve their performance for the next match.

            • Carla says:

              Soccer is a team sport. It’s not “grooming their replacement” it’s mentoring the future of the game. #GrowTheGame not the player.

              • cathy raycroft says:

                I agree, I only phrased it that way because people are harping on the age of the players.

              • The Garrincha says:

                Carla,
                How bout we grow both?,
                in fact you can not really have one without the other.

      • NoGoodGulatti says:

        logic > hyperbole and exaggeration
        You can see the benefits of giving younger players more playing time. This experience provides a long term balance and expansion of the player pool depth that is more important to the growth and stability of the team than any short term 1game/1tournament results.
        Your “embarrassment” is you projecting irrational fears (I just saved you a $150 at the shrink). It’s not based in reality. So what if the US got beat 10-0. The benefits of playing youth are beyond the scoreline. It is building for the future, providing opportunities for younger players to learn and grow vs. top teams. It’s planting seeds for the future. Too bad Sermanni won’t be around to harvest. Gulatti sounds like he’s parsing his words. If the Algarve tournament or his decision to play youth was the cause for Sermanni’s firing (which seems likely, regardless of how Gulatti parses his speech) then Gullati made a short-sighted, ill-advised decision. And Gullati’s decisions? who gets to pull the plug when he’s off the mark?

        • Carla says:

          This is on the mark. I think there is a good balance to finding new players, and playing veterans. Personally, I disagreed with his lineup against Denmark in the Algarve. But, I am not a coach, nor do I monitor players progress at camps, practice, etc.

          To me, it shows progress that Sermanni efforted different formations and players during games. That seems like he is studying other countries’ rosters and style of play, and adapting our own style to best match theirs. And, frankly, it worked well for 15 of his 16 months.

          You aren’t going to beat every team with the same XI. Japan is tactical, you want equally tactical players (Heath, Averbuch and Cox come to mind). Australia is fast, so you want your fastest players against them (Syd, Dunn, etc). Plus, factoring weather conditions, who is out, who is injured, who happens to be playing their best soccer that week.. It’s a lot to consider.

          In order to play your best soccer in a World Cup, you sometimes have to play your worst soccer before it.. to learn from it.

          • The Garrincha says:

            Carla, please do not bring Cox into it
            She’s just dropped even further down the depth chart since Kling, and Egan’s, last good showing.
            She now falls at best to #8 just behind the Bulldozer at #7.
            Also Morgan Brian, just shot way up my depth chart.
            She is firmly a top three DCM. smooth she is. Effortless passing, fluid movement and great field awareness.
            and I was a reserved about her,
            thinking she needs to toughen up and all.

    • recovered amishman says:

      As long as women’s professional soccer pays so little compared to a regular roster spot for the USWNT there will always be a conflict of interest for the players on the squad. Because of the financial incentives, once a player makes it onto the roster, their primary concern becomes keeping their roster spot, not putting the best team onto the field. I’ve long thought that the biggest competition is not between the USWNT Senior Squad and Japan or Germany or Brazil, but between the USNWT and the U20s and U23s. They have a huge interest in maintaining the status quo and TS seemed intent upon disrupting it.

      • Zocklo says:

        Would be interesting to see how Germany’s pay structure throughout their whole system differs from the U.S., as Germany has substantially more 19-22 year olds on their roster compared to the U.S.

  4. John says:

    It will be amusing seeing this team implode at the World Cup when age catches up with the certain women who got this coach canned. Reap what ya sow I’m afraid.

    • Jack Del says:

      He is reaping the reward of the worst performance in USWNT history.

      • Don the Jewler says:

        Can’t speak for John but I think he is referring to Gulati and USWNT as a whole more so than Sermanni.

    • cathy raycroft says:

      Our veterans have always done what is in the best interest of the team. I’m sure that Dunn, Press, and Savannah Jordan will be at the WC. Sydney and ALEX are young too. And yes the veterans should mentor the younger players.

  5. Liz says:

    great article. So, no, not a collective mutiny, meaning many players in revolt. To the contrary, Gulati definitely admitted he speaks to senior NT players(s) and that he consulted with a select group of senior players and did so when making this decision. Another takeaway, for USA, Algarve is not a tournament where experiments can be tested and possibly fail. indeed, any repeated failure is not an option for USWNT. US Soccer concedes Sermanni is a nice guy who was not the right fit, bc while other teams are are catching up to US, Sermanni could not get aforesaid senior NT players to revise their style and still win. US Soccer does not, of course, communicate these expectations to its coach, as such expectations are simply understood, None of these rule apply to USMNT however, since WNT is based on marketing personalities and MNT has never had the burden of qualifying for a knockout round of world cup, let alone winning a world cup. I am not saying it is the wrong decision to sack Sermanni per se, but retooling an aging team of known personalities while never, ever losing, is an extraordinary challenge to a coach. Sermanni probably laid most of the groundwork bringing in new players. Will the new coach have the courage to move away from the aging senior NT personalities if it means being competitive in the WWC 2015? we’ll find out.

    • Zocklo says:

      You hit a major point:
      —“….since WNT is based on marketing personalities”. The criteria for success for the MNT and WNT are totally different.

      • cathy raycroft says:

        I think you are all being hard on the senior players, women do not age out as early as men do. Abby has always been very humble, she said a while ago that she will have to work hard and stay fit to make the WC team.

        • The Garrincha says:

          LiZ good stuff, save the MNT, has been to the knockout phase 4 times.
          Now Cathy Ray, We know all this, we want Wam, around for a last dance and chance at the world cup.
          We also know realistically she can not be the main focus of the attack all the time. Wam’s, worth about 70 percent of all minutes allotted next WC.
          The style must be able to adjust to the BEST personnel that is on the field and available at any given time.

  6. solles says:

    the chinless fanboy spin…

  7. Juan from L.A. says:

    LOL…the USWNT have divas…jesus bad precedent on Gulati…esp if the mutiny came from veteran players who are on their way out…

  8. Brain Guy says:

    Wow. Gulati managed to spend an entire press conference and explain absolutely morning. “Yeah, a little of this, a little of that.” He could have saved everyone a lot if tone by just releasing a statement that said, “No single reason. Lots of little reasons. But I can’t be more specific. Except to say that it definitely, absolutely, positively wasn’t the players. Especially not the veteran players. They didn’t ask for this. Well, we may have talked to them. Some of them. But that wasn’t it. It was other things. What other things? Well, I can’t really say.”

    • The Garrincha says:

      Absolutely spot on Brain Guy, funny.

      Now all people in question must deliver.

    • Ali Dia says:

      +1 Brain Guy.
      For what it’s worth, I had a few econ lectures from Professor Gulati as an undergraduate back in the day and found him to be an unusually articulate and engaging guy, particularly given the subject matter (Intermediate Microeconomics). The quotes from this interview are quite embarrassing by comparison and feel like a guy subconsciously drawing attention to the exact thing he is trying to avoid. This whole thing isn’t selling very well– somebody needs to call the normal PR guys back from vacation.

  9. Zocklo says:

    Have to say that when I do watch the WNT I am not impressed with their style of play, not much build-up or intricate passing—-they mostly try to get some one on one match-ups to exploit physically.
    I will be surprised if they win the next WC.

    • Matt C says:

      Totally agree. And i think i saw this under Pia too. While other teams were advancing technically, we—though technically sound—relied on physical fitness and athletic ability. The other countries focused on skills..and eventually, they’ll get their athletes on board.

  10. user222 says:

    whatever Gulati said was pure BS… it is what it is..

    US fans in general also have concerns about Gulati’s ability to command the Federation and to take US soccer to the next level.

    Let’s put Gulati’s job on the line. If the USWNT does not win the World Cup next year in Canada then Sunil Gulati is a failure, he MUST resign or be sacked.

  11. Leeza says:

    And to think Sawa’s equalizer goal in the 117th minute of the WC 2011 Final came courtesy from a deflection off the hand of a certain player. Hope Solo was in position to intercept, but was not able to adjust quick enough after the deflection.

  12. hartley says:

    You know, the Algarve Cup is NOT important. We win that thing all the time, but then lose in the World Cup. The Algarve Cup should be a time to experiment and find new players and strategies — especially ways to beat the teams that keep beating us in the World Cup.

    We say are standards are high and yet we fire a coach that was challenging players to look at themselves and their game in a new way. Seems to me that Wambach and maybe others got their feelings hurt by being benched and challenged and went over the coaches head instead of taking on the challenge of finding better ways to play and win.

  13. Pingback: Overly cautious, power rankings, MacMath for SOW, Gulati on Sermanni firing, more

  14. JoeW says:

    My take on all this is that Gulati is parsing his words–he doesn’t want to bash Sermanni (who is a classy guy) and get Sermanni responding and then the players feel a need to respond and then it really gets ugly. So instead Gulati talks about Algarve but then says that 1-2 games isn’t enough to get someone fired and that the USSF has decided to go in another direction.

    Here’s my read on this:
    –some veterans don’t care for Sermanni and his decisions. The defeats probably made them more vocal. For instance, Wambach going public that she wants to play with 3 forwards and Sermanni listened but then said no with a smile…can anyone image a player on a major club or national team saying that about their current coach (and keeping their spot)? If the veteran leaders had been supportive of Sermanni and his approach, I think he’d still have a job. I don’t think they were.
    –I think there’s a worry within USSF that Sermanni was in over his head. Not that he’s experimenting too much or playing too many new players (that was the mission he was given—to do both of those things specifically). But that he’s doing a lousy job implementing those things and isn’t capable of doing them. That his “man management” skills are weak and he’s not capable of bringing out the best in his key players. For instance, Solo was mostly crap at Algarve and cost the team the win against Japan. Veteran attackers (like LeRoux, Wambach, and A-Rod) have failed to score consistently playing a possession attack and goals haven’t come by breaking down defenses through possession and smart passing (LeRoux’s goal against Japan came from hustle and forcing an error by the Japanese keeper). When the USSF leadership went to the players after the Algarve, what they heard wasn’t supportive of Sermanni which just reinforced those fears.

    Mutiny? No, I doubt players said “either he goes or we go.” Fired b/c of the Algarve? Nah–while that was mentioned, if that was the issue he’d have been fired after the tournament and Gulati was specifically asked if it was b/c of the Algarve and he said it was a combination of things and that 1-2 losses isn’t enough to get you fired from this job.

    So that’s my interpretation of Gulati’s spin and what we’ve heard from the players so far (on and off the record).

  15. recovered amishman says:

    I wonder what Gulati means when he says he was not approached by a “collective” group of players. Those are weasel words.

    • JoeW says:

      There are stories/rumors that a group of players approached USSF against Sermanni. While Gulati isn’t denying that the players talked to were mostly negative about Sermanni and that perhaps a few players did approach USSF, he’s trying to prevent everyone from seeing this as a “mutiny” where the team (or most of the team) came to USSF and said “fire him.”

      Yes, they’re weasel words–he’s parsing his language. And it’s the smart thing to do. If he said “we had concerns prior to the Algarve, we were upset with the results and that increased our concerns. Then a couple of veteran players came to us to complain about Sermanni saying he was a poor coach/they thought we would fail with him/he couldn’t coach and when we asked they said that they spoke for the team/represented the sentiments of many of the veterans on the team, so we decided to fire him”…that would create an impression that the players decide who the coach is, that they can get people fired, and if you don’t kiss the collective butts of certain players you’re going to be in trouble. That impression (whether it’s true or not) is absolutely not one that Gulati or the players want the world to have. So gulati is parsing his words. He’s saying a group or “collective” didn’t approach him (but individuals may have). He’s’ not denying that the players didn’t say good things about Sermanni. He’s not denying that if some players did approach USSF that they may have claimed to speak for others. He doesn’t want to go there b/c if he does, this thing gets real ugly real quickly.

      As it is, Sermanni (even if you think he’s not a good coach) has been very classy about the whole thing. Jill Ellis is the epitome of class and a good interim coach as this gets sorted out. Gulati is doing his best job to talk to the press without spilling out all the details. And so far I haven’t seen a lot from the players in the past day (but then I don’t have a twitter account) going in to more dirt. And that’s for the best.

      • user222 says:

        players were directed not to make personal comments about Sermani’s firing…..

        I didn’t like her much but you wonder why Pia after two gold Olympic wins and 2nd place WC finish had enough. She figured out who really runs the show.

  16. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    Once Wambach retires, this team will be much, much better off. Wambach was one of the ringleaders of the ugly shaming of Hope Solo during and immediately after the 2007 World Cup. Wambach is a politician and a bully; I say that because bullies like to kiss up to people whom they can’t control (cf, Dan Borislow) and intimidate those they think they can, especially as part of a group.

    I wouldn’t trust Wambach if she told me that 2+2=4.

    Carli Lloyd is the only one of the veterans who has any class as a human being. I hope she stays with the national program as a coach on some level. She has a lot to offer, much more so than the Ploughhorse of Rochester.

  17. kelly w says:

    Ok so who should be coaching? I say bring in Akers, Foudy, Hamm, Chastaina and other former players and “team coach”….;-)

    • The Garrincha says:

      Hope Powell, then maybe Hamm?.

    • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

      Kelly, I don’t think Hamm or Akers have the desire to coach, although Akers has the personality and would demand respect. Hamm is too much of an introvert. Chastain and Foudy go to the opposite extreme. Besides, the younger players would resent the shadow of 1999 hanging over them. That would cloud any relationship with four of the five players you suggested (especially Chastain and Foudy, with the exception of Akers, who has been out of the game long enough to have her own personality outside of 1999).

      You left out one person who could be good: Carla Overbeck. Like Akers, she’s been out of the limelight enough to demand respect on her own merits, and she has the leadership personality to be a coach.

      I hope the federation has some sense and hires Lloyd as a youth-level coach after she retires.

      • The Garrincha says:

        J. Hippo, Love Carly Crash LLoyd.
        Not so sure about the feelings thing, and resentment about having a coach that won previously?, if anything that should be inspiring and motivational.
        Last if you do not know about Hope Powell, find out?.

        So Hope Powell, first choice, then either Dorance, or Hamm.
        there is enough North Cackalacky, players to make them both feel at home.

        If not?, any serious coach who really knows there X’s and O’s, and is going to put them to task.

        PS Hippo that long shadow of 99, IS hanging over them. it won’t go away until that cup is lifted again.
        if you do not understand this.
        Go ask Canada?, how they feel about a generation of Canadians, who have never witnessed a Canadian team hoist the cup.
        So instead they take extra solace in Gold Medals, oops, sound familiar.