USWNT players react to Sermanni’s firing

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By CAITLIN MURRAY

Reactions are trickling in from U.S. Women’s National Team players after head coach Tom Sermanni was fired in a shocking move over the weekend – and they cover quite a range.

Abby Wambach reiterated comments from U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati a day earlier, when he said Sermanni’s dismissal was “not a collective group of players” pushing for his ouster.

“Everybody out there who may think the players made this happen, none of it’s true,” Wambach told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Wambach, however, seemed to imply that the federation felt Sermanni was moving the USWNT away from an “attack-oriented” mindset.

“Every coach that comes on has their own philosophy and stamp that they want to put on the game. For us, we’re very American, attack-oriented, score goals until the 95th minute,” she said. “That’s how we are. I think that maybe the direction of the team wasn’t going in the direction the federation had hoped, not only the Algarve result, but I think just in general.”

Sermanni had been fired Sunday night with Gulati laying partial blame on the USWNT’s worst-ever seventh-place finish at last month’s Algarve Cup in Portugal.

Megan Rapinoe said Sermanni’s tendency to shuffle lineups might’ve alienated some people, but was also responsible for the emergence of new soccer powerhouses, like Sydney Leroux.

“I felt like performances in a lot of ways were going in the direction we (wanted to be) going. What he was trying to do was always going to take a little bit of time,” Rapinoe told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday as the USWNT prepares to face China on Thursday. “I think you can argue it both ways. One of the criticisms of the last coach, Pia (Sundhage), was that she never changed the lineup.”

“I think there’s been a lot of different people, and that has been disruptive to lineups,” Rapinoe added, “but you’ve also seen the emergence of Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press.”

Hope Solo seemed to put some of the responsibility of Sermanni’s firing on the team, saying the team underperformed and Sermanni paid the price.

“We didn’t play our best soccer in Portugal and we came in seventh place and that’s not good enough for this team,” Solo said. “At the end of the day, we failed Tom. We didn’t put together a good tournament. That’s how professional sports are. They’re not going to cut 24 players. They’re going to get a new coach. That’s how it goes.”

Sermanni, meanwhile, still seemed to be processing what happened. Hours after the firing, he told SBI he was surprised and unsure why he was fired – but by Tuesday he had gone from surprise, to disappointment, to frustration, he told Sirius XM radio.

In hindsight, Sermanni said he should’ve brought in his own coaching staff, but noted he did leave successes behind, including the emergence of Leroux as perhaps the top forward in the world.

“Nineteen of the 23 or 24 players, unsolicited, chatted with me and thanked me,” Sermanni said of the aftermath of his firing. “That in itself is an indication that there was harmony in the squad. The players had bought into what we were actually trying to do with the team.”

Wambach added that Sermanni addressed the players after he was fired and wished them the best, which she called “some of the best people experience I’ve ever seen.”

“I wish he was a jerk in some ways because it would be easier,” Wambach said. “But that’s just not the case. He’s such a good guy. He treated us all with the utmost respect and we couldn’t wish him nothing but the best of luck.”

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65 Responses to USWNT players react to Sermanni’s firing

  1. Jack Del says:

    That’s the life of a coach, players rarely take the blame when it comes down to it.

    *COUGH OMAR GONZALEZ*

    • Increase0 says:

      Urg, its not like there is a choice outside of Omar either. Not really…..

      Also Wambach is the only openly critical one….quoted here anyway.

      • Jack Del says:

        Ha.

        Didn’t mean vocally taking blame, I meant having blame assigned to them by the likes of we the plebeians.

        Omar Gonzalez blows an easy marking assignment at an away qualifier resulting in a loss for the United States.

        Klinsmann gets blamed.

        • away goals says:

          You don’t criticize the coach because of one blown assignment. You criticize the coach because it only took one blown assignment to cost you the game.

          • joshw says:

            No, you criticize the coach for selecting the dolt who made the errors, particularly if he keeps doing it. It’s the same concept as negligent hiring. If my driver takes meth and kills somebody I may have some defenses. But if I knew he had 10 DUIs when I hired him, I’m on the hook.

            • away goals says:

              I’m with you unless every other driver out there has 20 DUIs.

              Which might be the case when you’re talking about our center back pool. It’s a very inebriated bunch, so to speak.

  2. hmm says:

    so why did he get fired?

    • Weston John says:

      If the next coach wants to avoid Tom Sermanni’s fate, he or she will have to make sure to feature Wambach as the target forward and re-implement Route 1 soccer.

      Coach Sermanni’s “mistake” was thinking he had free reign to (1) switch the system to being possession-based, and (2) introduce new players into the team to eventually replace the veterans. Ironically, everyone’s biggest complaint about the previous coach (Pia Sundhage) was that she stuck to the same line-up not introducing the next generation to the team.

    • Rory Miller says:

      “Everybody out there who may think the players made this happen, none of it’s true,” Wambach told the Associated Press on Tuesday while she sheepishly held a bloody knife that perfectly matched the hole recently found in Sermannis’ back.

  3. Zocklo says:

    Wambach says “we” a lot, when the best translation means “me”. Sermanni tried to change the archaic style of play and enough of the influential players sabotaged his efforts. T

    • Jack Del says:

      That’s quite an accusation there. Do you have proof that the players threw games to get the coach fired?

      • Zocklo says:

        No ‘proof” needed, this is a blog not a judicial proceeding. Am just reading between the lines of Hope Solo’s comment.

        • Jack Del says:

          You don’t base your opinions on evidence?

          • Rory Miller says:

            Guys, guys, guys. It’s not like Hope Solo has enough power to get a coach fired, right? Right? Especially not coaches with high winning percentages, Right?

            • Davis says:

              Hope Solo did not get Greg Ryan fired. Greg Ryan’s own ineptitude got him fired. He made have had a high winning percentage against mostly cupcake opponents, but the team played the worst brand of soccer the national team has ever played while under his tenure. And his decisions in that world cup semi-final were inexplicable.

        • user222 says:

          Solo hated giving up 5 goals to Denmark… she didn’t want to point fingers to the back line, instead she probably blamed Sermani… I hear this “inconsistency” word being spoken out by some players… you will have growing pains when fielding new line ups when you’re trying to face out the old guards…

          • James says:

            I think you watch too many crime-show dramas. Not everything is a conspiracy.

          • Weston John says:

            “We didn’t play our best soccer in Portugal and we came in seventh place and that’s not good enough for this team,” Solo said. “At the end of the day, we failed Tom.” – Hope Solo.

            Sounds like Solo isn’t blaming Tom. She is blaming herself and her teammates. A very humble and honest quote.

          • Too says:

            You must not follow the women’s team much. At Algarve Hope did admit the defense hasn’t been good. And here she says the team let Tom down and since they can’t fire the players they fire the coach. She also was the first one to break rank and publicly support him after he was fired. Unlike some of the vets she has consistently gone on record to say she likes what Tom was doing, likes the kids getting integrated, and constantly points out that other teams are advancing and that we must improve to stay ahead. That’s is all Tom’s camp. In contrast you have Abby talking about the glories of American long ball and meaningless number one records.

            • Big Red says:

              Solo blames herself and talks about defensive struggles yet Wambach talks about phantom people at the “federation” who have given her exclusive information about their opinion on the US offensive style.

              Wait what?

  4. user222 says:

    “Wambach, however, seemed to imply that the federation felt Sermanni was moving the USWNT away from an “attack-oriented” mindset.”

    pre-Sermani era all US women national teams have relied on kicking the ball up field and run like a mother, out muscle the opposition and score goals on set pieces…. although they had success in the past this aint no “attack-oriented mindset”… who is Wambach kidding?

    Sermani was trying to implement a possession style game. All other women elite countries in the world are playing like that, even the physical germans… Athleticism along will get you eliminated from top competition.

    US tied Japan 1-1 in Algarve group play…. Germany soundly beat Japan 3-0 in the Algarve Cup Final….

    • Zocklo says:

      Best description I’ve seen of WNT style/tactics:
      “…..kicking the ball up field and run like a mother, out muscle the opposition and score goals on set pieces”.
      Hilarious.

      • guest1 says:

        “Accidental offense.” That’s another apt description. The US “build-up” is typically one interception or tackle of the opposition, one pass, and one shot or header.

    • Duke says:

      I agree with this but have to add, if we’re moving to possession oriented soccer… thats great BUT it was not resulting in many quality chances. Even in the China game… where was the offense? We had little to none. The final 1/3 was terrible.

      Maybe the pool isn’t right for that style? Think about it. We have run Sydney Run… not a possession player, Abby.. not enough skill to play that plus she cant run, Lloyd – mostly interested in setting herself up.. not a good player to create for others.. and on and on.

      I didnt like the way weve looked lately under Tom. There didnt seem to be any game plan at all. However I do know that throwing the ball into the middle and hoping Abby can put it in is not the answer either If that’s what Abby mean by “attack oriented soccer” the we need to move away from that. I’m just not sure the current pool can really play any other way?

  5. KingGoogleyEye says:

    “Nineteen of the 23 or 24 players…thanked me”

    Telling. Time to start speculating on the 4-5.

  6. Weston John says:

    Mike Lyons and Tom Sermanni should catch up and share stories.

  7. MeroMasta says:

    Is Wambach even going to play in the next WC?

    It seems to me that Wambach is in denial that the women’s game has changed. Either they change or get left behind.

    Hopefully they wake up before the next WC. If not, they’re in for an unpleasant experience.

  8. wfrw07 says:

    The attack minded American style Abby mentions hasn’t quite worked the last three World Cups. I fail to see why trying something else seems so unacceptable.

    • Jack Del says:

      We lost in penalties in the final in the last World Cup. I would say it worked just fine.

      • JoeW says:

        The US Women are always one of the top 5 teams in the world. But to be honest, I thought Japan and definitely France had better WCs and were more impressive over the tournament. If you look at the 2011 WC, the US won 3 matches outright (North Korea and Columbia–neither strong teams) and France. The US Women lost to Sweden, and then played two matches with PKs (winning one, losing another). And to be honest, the USSF has (for the past decade) tried to get the women to play with more possession and rely less on dead-ball scores and direct soccer.

  9. DB says:

    Is this the same Hope Solo from the Greg Ryan days?

    Quite a switch in attitude…lol.

    • wood chip zip says:

      I disagree. I think Hope is being very consistent between now and the Greg Ryan days.

  10. The Garrincha says:

    What’s pathetic about this is that Wam, was not going anywhere until after next WC, or Olympics.
    And as Tom, stated politely he was very let down or stabbed in the back by assistants,
    most of whom including the youth team coaches are pretty worthless if you ask me.
    They act and appear much more like cheer leaders than coaches.

    Hope Powell, she’s a good coach. with the talent the US has she would be great.

  11. TomG says:

    Seems like a poor firing by Gulati. This team has struggled defensively for years and Tom was trying proactively to address the issue and try to uncover a style and some players who will help them in that regard and he’s sacked for it. This team scores goals like crazy, so I have no clue how Abby claims they don’t play attacking soccer. I think she means that they don’t play as direct soccer? Interesting that Wambach seems the most unhappy when Sermanni’s greatest move was to promote LeRoux to superstar status as well as to give other young stars like Christen Press. You have to wonder if this is a jealousy thing with the old guard feeling threatened by the young challengers for their positions. I hope this doesn’t doom the team to being an old side that plays an outdated style with no room for young players and fresh ideas.

    • Jack Del says:

      Or a lack of results.

      Wambach has more than earned the right to speak. She’s the greatest to ever play the position.

      This new group of players can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Beat China 2-0 despite outshooting them by over 20 shots.

      • MeroMasta says:

        Seems like your in the minority on this Jack Del.

        With only 2 losses, I don’t think it was the results.

        Wambach might be the greatest to play her position and of course she has the right to speak, but I think she’s wrong. Won’t be the first time a great player is wrong. Won’t be the last.

        The game is changing and the USWNT seems to be getting left behind.

      • JClout says:

        “Wambach has more than earned the right to speak. She’s the greatest to ever play the position.”
        That’s just plain ignorant. What happens if every “greatest to ever play that position” wants something different for the NT?
        The only thing she has the right is to shut her trap and support the program above all else.

      • Weston John says:

        “This new group of players can’t hit the broad side of a barn”

        wow…based on the China game? What about the rest of their careers? Last time I checked Press had 12 goals in her first 20 caps and led the Swedish league in scoring. Leroux has 28 goals in her first 48 caps.

        The future is bright…it just might not include the same starters forever. The times they are a’changin’.

      • Anthony says:

        Wambach is great player, but I would argue that Marta (who is 7 years younger) and Mia Hamm were better players at that position. They are different players with different styles, but Mia Hamm and Marta were better and more complete players. As many goals as Hamm scored, people seem to forget that she was an assist-machine. She had nearly as many assists as she had goals (158 G and 144 A).

        In the paragon of USWNT forwards, I put her second or third: Hamm – Akers/Wambach. The only reason is that she the other two are so complete. Some people forget that Akers was initially a dominant forward on the USWNT who then was the dominant box to box of her generation. If you watch specials about the ’99 women, they will say she was the most important player on that team.

      • The Garrincha says:

        jack Del,
        Wam is the greatest goal scorer.
        If I had my choice for 11 Wams, or 11 Hamms?,
        i’m going with Hamm.
        Now you need just one or two Wams,
        you could use Hamm, a lot more.

        To refresh Wam, would have been a good keeper, central defender, and is a great box striker.
        Hamm, could play all 11 positions with ease.

      • Duke says:

        “Wambach has more than earned the right to speak. She’s the greatest to ever play the position. ”

        Not in my book… Maybe she has the goals but she’s far too one dimensional to be the greatest.

  12. Weston John says:

    I’ll take our new group of young forwards over any other group in the world. Morgan, Press & Leroux are an embarassment of riches. Can’t judge them on a couple games with poor finishing…happens to the best players.

    • Too says:

      Exactly. Like Rapinoe said the team is trying to grow and signs of improving are starting to show in many areas of the field. It takes time but it sounds like more players were on board than off based on Hope/Rapinoe/Carli quotes vs Abby’s. We possess well, our backline when given the right age/youth ratio does well, and we produce A LOT of quality chances based on strong tactics, not punt and hoof and cross your fingers. The finishing has been off the last 4-5 games but that is it. Finishing among Syd, Press, and Morgan will sort itself out. They are all finishers.

      Now the message sent to the locker room is that the kids weren’t doing well, they don’t like where Tom was taking them, the progress they made isn’t the direction they want to go, and there is even more pressure on the forwards to finish. More importantly never ever lose a game. Ever. Even if you are transitioning and giving quality time to the kids. Losing a non-televised game is a no-no too. Turn back the clock and return to to the golden years of American punt and hoof soccer. Tom didn’t understand the American way and he is out.

      The fact is Germany is young, fit, tactical, and physical. They are the full package. Turf and travel in Canada won’t be an issue with them for the WC. Japan is young, fit, tactical, and calculated. They don’t produce a lot of chances but convert a % their chances at an unbelievable rate. They expend energy wisely and can control matches vs most teams besides the top three. They won’t be hurt by turf and travel in Canada. Sweden is fit, physical, and can neutralize our long ball. We have never ever matched up well against them. They will have some issues in the WC because of their age, but they have Pia who is has changed their fitness program over the least 16 months. The USA, if we go off of Tom’s path, will be old, fragile, physical, and predictable. We won’t do well on turf with a starting line-up averaging 29-30 years old.

      • The Garrincha says:

        Very well put Too.
        We all know how well old legs and knees do on turf, not a good precedent.

  13. Brain Guy says:

    Caption: “Hey, Tom, the exit is over there!”

  14. wood chip zip says:

    lol. Personally can’t wait until Wambach is gone. She suggested Sermanni go with 3 forwards and he said “no”. Embarrasing.

  15. desktop says:

    Probably the US women would have won the World Cup in 2011 if Wambach had kept her arms at her side on that corner kick against Japan late in overtime when Japan scored the goal to put the game at 2-2. If you look the video, the ball from the Japanese players headshot hits Wambach’s out stretched hand and deflects up. Solo could not react fast enough and the ball was in the back of the net.

  16. JoeW says:

    My take here is that Sermanni is being classy (so far–I didn’t hear the Sirius radio IV so I can’t speak to that) and initial reactions from the players have called Sermanni classy and a good guy and Gulati parsed his words and never really specifically said “here’s our indictment of TS” and instead put it as “we have high standards/want to go in a different direction.” The best thing that the WNT and USSF can do is get this behind them and move on–quickly. If this turns in to “here’s the problems we had with TS and his coaching” than he’s got an incentive to respond and we get blood in the water and it gets ugly.

    You can argue that Sermanni is a good coach who just wasn’t given enough support and time or you can argue he was over his head. But I think it’s weak cheese to argue that the new group of players is weak…LeRoux is in that new group of players. Press has looked good. A bunch of newcomers have impressed. And that was specifically Sermanni’s mission–to indict him for doing so is just silly. Even matches where they lost or didn’t impress–look at the Algarve and the starting lineups. The Denmark debacle had a veteran GK and backline. It was Solo who goofed and let in the tying goal by Sweden. It’s not like these errors are happening solely due to youngsters. And the argument that somehow he’s going away from attacking soccer is just silly. Yep, the US Women have struggled to score goals most of the time. But they’ve had possession (which was the intention of the Sermanni regime) and they’ve generated a lot of chances. So the argument that he’s trying to bunker or play defensive soccer is a lame one as far as I’m concerned. Now, you might argue that he hasn’t coached good attacking soccer but it’s nonsense that he’s trying to get away from attacking. In fact, one of the criticisms of Sermanni is that he’s been trying attackers like Bryan and Press at defensive spots (as a way of improving overall team technical ability and attacking skills on the backline).

  17. Matt says:

    People commenting on here about how this is the players fault are ignoring Sermannis trend as a coach. In his previous tenure every single major tournament he coached (inlcuding the world cup) he had one of if not the youngest teams present. The Australian team was constantly in flux and constantly had an extremely young roster, like Sermanni didn’t believe in his veterans. Introducing youth is one thing, but only playing youth is another.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Matt, TS played a big mix of youth and experience,
      And regarding veterans who exactly
      was not playing who should have been?.
      Answer that please.

    • Too says:

      Australia has some very talented youth AND vets like Lisa DeVanna mixed in. I’m not sure where you got your information. He brought their program out of the dark ages and had them at the highest ranking yet along with making sure they had a good base of youth and vets so they could continue into the future. Germany and Japan have very young teams too and are doing great. For the US even with the youth Tom was working in the we were projected to be one of the oldest team in the WC. Face it, most of the team was adapting well to modern soccer outside of a couple old vets who raised a stink seeing the window close on their last hurrah.

      • Matt says:

        Utter nonsense. It was the youngest team in the tournament, dont believe me? look at their roster. Both teams you mentioned had an average age of 6 years higher than Australia, and the same can be said for every single tournament Australia participated that year, and other years leading up to the world cup. You clearly didn’t watch the games in the algarve cup where our younger players, frankly played like garbage, absolutely refusing to attack, absolutely refusing to finish. Friendlies are there for a reason, scouting club play, is there for a reason

    • user222 says:

      Matt… Germany has completely retool, a good mix of young and vets but more on the younger side… they look like the team to beat as they have added “possession” to their game…

      US=1, Japan=1 in Algarve group play….. Germany=3, Japan=0 in Algarve Cup Final…. this time the little Japanese girls couldn’t keep up with the more athletic, technical german squad…. perhaps many at the USSF didn’t like this…

      Against japan, Solo botched and failed to stop a 35 yard FK with 7 minutes left in the game. If she does what she normally does the US wins 3 points and probably plays for 3rd or 5th place… not bad.

      Sweden seems to match the US very well, they seem to have our number.

      Many forget that Denmark is a good team. They made it to the semifinals but lost and finished 3rd in the 2013 EUFA Women’s Championship, unlucky for them not to make it to the finals as they lost in a penalty shootout.

      It is wrong to say the USWNT under Sermani had no direction in the Algarve Cup.

      Sometimes completely new blood is needed. Look at Brazil men’s team, they revamped and got rid of the old guard, the coach only kept Julio Cesar the keeper, this Brazilian team will play together for the next 10 years… that’s an scary thought.

  18. Matt says:

    go team!!!!:D

  19. Steve says:

    Talking about making the same mistake over and over…..Klinnsman’s choice of Altidore over and over is getting old with me.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Steve, can I call you Steve?.
      Because that’s not a bad comment, I think a lot of people on another message board/thread may even agree with you,
      Specifically one talking about Klinsy, and Jozy, being all cozy and cuddly together that’s on another thread.
      You won’t even have to give any good reasons for not liking play A, over player B etc.
      Slow Lefty comes to mind.
      However right here, we are trying to get the World Cup back.

  20. Gavin says:

    Watch Algarve cup 2014,Sweden vs usa. Wambach goes out of her way to avoid getting a goal or creating any opportunities. I’ve watched the game twice and watched all her plays in slow motion. Her obvious desire to have her team. I mean the team not win is clear to see. She wanted TS gone.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Gavin, I agree, without getting too conspiratorial
      I had this feeling that some players were pulling punches at the Algarve Cup.
      Almost trying to make coach or some younger players look bad or both.
      If one can envision it’s like this,
      See how bad we played, must be the inconsistent line ups,
      the youth and inexperience, when most of what I saw was veteran players letting down or breaking down. either way you slice it some either gave up or could not hack it anymore. Neither is a good solution or outcome. So stop trying to sell us one thing or another. It was just about all bad.

      So people coming up with this continuity, consistency thing are being short sighted and disingenuous to the professionalism, depth and over all quality of all USWNT, players, as well as to the youth coming up. In the end, it’s all about the kids.

    • Liz says:

      Gavin, interesting point. Wambach was utterly horrendous, awful etc v Sweden. Perhaps the fatal coaching error on many levels was in not yanking her after 30 min?

      • Zocklo says:

        Watch Wambach’s body language in USA/Sweden—she was just mailing it in. Will Gulati get WNT coach who will reign in Wambach?—bench her when she needs to be benched, start another player when performace dictates?…….not holding my breath.

  21. Emma says:

    Some really hilarious comments in here!
    First objection: „with this stone-age soccer they haven’t won anything in years.“ Pardon?
    I hope everyone who says that has the same lofty benchmarks for his/her own life!
    Silver medal at a world cup after PK – against a team of destiny (remember that earthquake/tsunami/Fukushima thing?) – ah and then that gold medal at the Olympics one year later? Really really bad results.
    Of course Pia didn’t make great changes in the 12 months between these highlights (Although, when exactly did Leroux appear on the scene?)
    TS had 16 months and spare time – and he used this time to insert youngsters in the lineup in a chaotic „musical chairs: meet wheel of fortune“ style, at the same time not bending but breaking a successful playing-style and mindset.
    But it is oh so easy to blame everything wrong with US Women Soccer on Abby Wambach.
    She is not good right now, o.k.
    But to suggest, she has stabbed TS in the back and arranged all the mayhem that was the Algarve is mightily entertaining!
    First she pressured the likes of Press, Lloyd, HAO etc., just to play sideways and backwards – („no goals!“), then she prevented rookie of the year Erika Tymrak from going to Algarve, instead personally helping the Mewises on the field (you don’t have to worry about too much success when they play in the NT), then she poisoned Sydney’s food, to prevent her from too much scoring, then she convinced TS, to keep a viable option to supplant her one day – Sarah Hagen – away from the pitch as much as possible, then she persuaded Hope Solo not to play up to her high standards, then she prevented Naeher to even see some 20 or so minutes in the very last game (3:0 and over) – and then (I think that was her best work) she let TS talk like a complete fool after the games („statistical dominance, should have/would have won if only bla bla bla“).
    Re. Hope (and her substandard play) – of course she is open to „bringing in the youth“… no problem with competition, as long as the only position without competition is her own.
    I am amazed by the conspiration theories – while it is utterly impossible that TS is just a bad coach for the USWNT.