Tom Sermanni fired as USWNT coach

SadderSermanni (ISIphotos.com)

By CAITLIN MURRAY

After less than 16 months on the job, U.S. Soccer has relieved Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni of his duties, effective immediately.

“We want to thank Tom for his service over the past year and half, but we felt that we needed to go in a different direction at this time,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said Sunday night in a press release. “We will begin looking for a new coach immediately to guide our Women’s National Team toward qualifying for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

U.S. Soccer Director of Development Jill Ellis will serve as interim head coach, beginning Thursday when the USWNT faces China in San Diego. Ellis had served as interim coach when Pia Sundhage left in 2012 before Sermanni took over in January 2013.

“I’m disappointed that things didn’t work out,” Sermanni said in a statement, “but I’d like to thank U.S. Soccer for the opportunity to have coached this team and also the staff and players for all their hard work.”

Sermanni had coached the USWNT to a 2-0 win over China Sunday afternoon, just hours before the announcement.

Sermanni only lost twice in 24 matches, but his tenure faced its first big turmoil last month when the USWNT finished in a worst-ever seventh-place at the prestigious Algarve Cup. There, the USWNT snapped a 43-game unbeaten streak against Sweden and then conceded a record five goals in a single match against Denmark.

Only then did hints show that players may be losing faith in Sermanni’s master plan. Alex Morgan, who did not play in the Algarve Cup due to injury, pointed to Sermanni’s tendency to rotate starting lineups frequently as a factor for the poor performance.

“I think the girls are a little bit down in Portugal right now, but I think Tom and the coaching staff and the players all need to get together and work something out because the lineup changes could be a factor,” Morgan told media from Portland during the Algarve tournament. “But again, I want them to stay positive. I’ve gotten a lot of texts and calls from them and I really hope to be back with them soon, but they’re going through a rough time and so I hope they pick it back up.”

Wambach echoed those sentiments, telling Sports Illustrated after the tournament: “We haven’t really been really been playing the way we normally play. I think there’s been a lot of factors. I know Tom likes to switch up the lineup quite a bit, which is very different than what we’ve been used to. So, learning how to play with new players game after game, after game, it’s harder to get a rhythm.”

Sermanni had focused his tenure on bringing in rookies, giving 12 players their first caps and calling in new players at a rate of almost a new face per training camp. He also tinkered with lineups incessantly, starting a new lineup almost every game.

But Sermanni told SBI in February his vision didn’t include a set starting 11 and the group of starters would change from game to game during the seven matches of the 2015 World Cup.

“When we go into 2015, I don’t think this World Cup is going to be about a starting 11,” he said. “I think it’s going to be about a squad.”

Under Sermanni, Wambach had seen her role transition as her minutes diminished in favor of young strikers like Sydney Leroux and Christen Press. She told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle last week that she had spoken to Sermanni about the possibility of playing with three forwards, instead of two.

“I’ve been saying it for a year now, that the forwards selected to the roster are all going to have to be comfortable playing in certain moments and not in others,” Wambach said. “And the two forwards that are going to be on the same page, and connected the most, I think are going to be the two-front that will start the most. I’d also like to see Tom toy with a three-front. We’ve talked about that a little bit. He shot me down.”

Sermanni did start the USWNT in a 4-3-3 for the second time-ever on Sunday, just hours before his firing was announced, where Wambach was a sub, coming on in the 57th minute.

The No. 1-ranked USWNT will have to get through World Cup qualification in October in Mexico before the World Cup, which will be played next summer in Canada.

Gulati will address the media to discuss the decision Monday afternoon.

—–

What do you think of this news? How did you think Sermanni performed as USWNT head coach? Do you think the USWNT has enough time to get its house in order before World Cup qualifiers?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Women's National Team, Women's Soccer and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to Tom Sermanni fired as USWNT coach

  1. wfrw07 says:

    Very surprising. If this is about Algarve, why wait until now? Why do it between games of a two game set?

    It seems like a specific event must have occurred to explain this timing.

    • Chris says:

      Perhaps to line up possible replacement(s)?

      • wfrw07 says:

        I have no issue with it being a year out in a cycle. I mean why today and not Friday. Or last Sunday.

      • JoeW says:

        Nope. The interim is Jill Ellis who was on-staff with USSF and available in a heart-beat (she was interim before Sundhage).

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Maybe he got a selection or formation directive from above and then did whatever he wanted in the game regardless. Either that or something about how the game was handled turned upset to mutiny and a sufficient bunch of people threatened to quit. I know they won 2-0 but when you are fired in between 2 games in a series after you won the first game against a solid China team, it’s something about how that game went other than the result.

      If it was about Algarve he would already be gone. They won this game so it wasn’t performance per se.

      I think if it was scandalous someone would be talking already. And if it was open mutiny you’d expect at least one triumphant social media post. I think it’s more likely his poor Algarve put him on thin ice, the players were not backing him, and then he is told to play or not play someone and thumbs his nose. Coach picks his players but he might then be axed as soon as the game is over for insubordination. Since the exec might not want to tell potential replacements that the coach was being backseat driven, you package it as need for a “new direction.” Same difference if the order was play x and y and bench a and b.

      Just a guess.

      • Landy Cakes says:

        I think it was algrave, plus struggling to convery opportunities against China. The US dominated the game, China isn’t very good, but the forwards failed play the way they should have given the competition they face, and the forwards struggled throughout the algrave as well with no clear replacement for Morgan in the mix. Obviously the defense struggled in the algrave as well but its hard to say the defensive lapsess were the cause given China barely ever had possession andn’t couldn’t really expose the defense.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Perhaps that’s why but then I’d say you don’t usually blame coach for winning 2-0 vs. a bunker team. Nor was the result out of whack in comparison to what Japan and n. Korea got against pr china. Algarve makes sense but this is late for that. An issue specific to china game or off pitch behavior explains timing. If players got upset at how game went and freaked out that would at least explain timing.

          Hard to say definitively they are being opaque like with Vasquez.

      • cathy raycroft says:

        He took a world class team in their prime and broke their morale by making them audition for their own jobs. A tournament is not the time for 1st caps while superstars are on the bench. The 30+ players are already grooming their replacements ie. Dunn and Press, there was no need for so many roster changes going into a world cup cycle.

        • jmot says:

          Well said.

          It’s entirely about Tom’s continual change up of the starting line up. One needs to build cohesion, and familiarity.

          This was the right thing to do, and the right time, and for the right reasons. Go USWNT !

    • user168 says:

      4-3-3

  2. DB says:

    I guess the women’s soccer version of Jürgen Klinnsmann just became available…*eyeroll*

    I suppose Sermanni started feeling the heat from disgruntled players….and we all know they run the ship.

    Back to the status quo, which means no WC victory in all likelihood.

  3. JayAre says:

    about time, they weren’t dominating games under him.

  4. Jacknut says:

    Jürgen’s expanding his empire? Martin Vasquez needs a job?

    • hm says:

      UM why?

      It’s very suspicious as it’s in between 2 games played a few days apart. Clearly this was a knee jerk reaction

  5. Vasco says:

    just seems odd in the middle of a two game set, with your best player out injured. He was expanding the pool, experimenting. When you do that you might lose.

    Seems weird, like the indians are ruling the roost, and had the chief fired.

    Have to be worried about qualifying now.

    • solles says:

      its the womens team, the indians have been ruling the roost for years, its one of the reasons they havent won a wc in forever.

      • T says:

        I totally agree. Just look at the comments by Abby. She wasn’t getting the playing time she wanted and asked Tom to play 3 up top to give her the playing time she wanted.

    • Artie says:

      The Indians ruling the roost? There’s no need for anti-Gulati racism.

      • John Lowe says:

        Have you ever heard the expression too many chiefs and not enough indians. It means there are too many bosses and not enough workers. When he says the indians are ruling the roost it means there is no leadership. It’s not a racist comment, btw I am 1/2 native american so don’t start on that racist bandwagon either.

        • Artie says:

          Welcome to the Internet, where every takes everything literally and is just waiting for an excuse to become offended about anything.

  6. hm says:

    I smell a conspiracy

    first we find out reports NSA have been spying on Angela Merkel

    next we find out Russia has invaded Crimea

    now this? I sense a web of deceit connected to Miley Cyrus and her twerks

  7. Kimberly says:

    I don’t know how anyone can be surprised by this. Algarave had to be the pinnacle turning point. He has, in one year, undone the empire Pia and this team have built. Tobin Heath played less than ten minutes today. ?? The veterans sit on the bench. Abby? Hope? Our little pony? While I believe we have to recruit and groom younger players to take the place of any veteran players who obviously will not play forever…. you don’t put them on the bench! You work the new players into the mix so they will be able to take up where the veterans leave off. This firing is a good thing, providing the new coach puts the team back together, as they were chipped away at. The goals against, the ties and the losses reflect the cracks in our empire. Fixable!

    • solles says:

      pffft “our empire” damn the uswnt people are sooo concieted.

    • Increase0 says:

      You really do have to bench veterans though… You have to throw young players in between WCs like this… its the only way to build experience. Abby isn’t going to be around in 2 years… or if she is she shouldn’t be.

      It’s ugly but I think the men’s team have an advantage that performance levels are so much more clear because of the highly visible competitive club situation. We all miss Carlos Bocanegra but its clear its time when he can’t get off the bench at a 2nd division Spanish team.

      We did it to Donovan last week against Mexico.

      • generalsternwood says:

        No, this makes me think Wambaugh and the old guard will stay around way past the time they are no longer contributing. Both quotes in the article are criticisms for Sermanni not having a fixed lineup. But of course, you can’t just anoint a younger player into a fixed lineup. To my eyes, he was playing Wambaugh less, as he should have been as he was assessing different combinations. And that seems to have been his “mistake”.

    • Anton says:

      But to build depth, you have to put the veterans on the bench. His job is to widen the playert pool, not bow down to the feet of the star players and cater to their wants. He already integrated quite a few young players into the pool, and a few that were making an impact (Press, Brian, Dunn).

      But really, if he got fired because the vets were upset that they’re minutes were being given to younger players, well, that’s pretty pathetic.

    • E says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Kimberly. Sermanni seemed to value tinkering with new faces and a ridiculous number of lineups over building team chemistry to the point where everyone knew and understood and accepted their roles. I fully support this move. I don’t know who is coming in next, but let’s face it…Pia was the perfect personality for this team and understood the dynamics. Sermanni was too busy playing with a new toy to realize what a major step back this squad has taken in the past 16 months. The Algarve Cup was a total disaster.

      • wood chip zip says:

        Klinsmann did this tinkering to the same degree plus he treated the men’s longtime captain and faithful servant horribly and he wasn’t fired. Obviously some of the women’s players have WAY too much say in what goes on.

        • Jack Del says:

          Klinsmann tinkered when he could tinker–but mostly because everyone kept getting injured.

          When a major tournament came up–Gold Cup–tinkering stopped and the lineup was set.

          • Anton says:

            He still threw Bocanegra aside though (was the right move IMO, just not the way he did it).

            Plus Klinsmann is still tinkering. He brought out a new formation just last week and introduced a new player to the pool.

      • John Lowe says:

        Yeah, because undefeated in 2013 is a big step back.
        They had one bad tourney where the lost a whopping 2 games. Getting your youngsters actual tournament time before a world cup seem like a smart idea to me. I would venture to say that winning in the World Cup is more important than winning the Algarve Cup. Despite how good the players believe they are they did not win the last World Cup. This is a poor decision by US Soccer.

      • jmot says:

        Well said, E.

  8. Jack Del says:

    Hm… really not sure how to feel about this.

    Initial reaction is that it’s a poor idea. On the other hand I can see why if its about the lackluster performances and major players being benched repeatedly for literally no apparent reason.

  9. Jack Del says:

    Word on the street is that the players were nearing mutiny.

    • Increase0 says:

      Huzzah for player power. I wonder if it was the older established players or the younger ones. Who makes a big difference. Do you have any idea Jack?

      • Jack Del says:

        Check out WaPo’s Steven Goff,

        Steven Goff @SoccerInsider
        Follow
        Players felt they weren’t learning and advancing under Sermanni. Unclear whether they went to Gulati for change. #uswnt

        And

        Steven Goff @SoccerInsider
        Follow
        Sermanni offered “no direction, no vision, nothing,” one source says. Players, USSF concerned about World Cup. #uswnt

        • Increase0 says:

          Huh, could be he was just like bad. No way to know unless the new coach is decidedly better.

        • Snack Time says:

          Maybe, but what kind of vision can you possibly have if you don’t know your player pool the way the previous coach did? Did Sermanni put on a David Moyes mask?

          • Increase0 says:

            I just saw that the last coach got 3rd in the 2010 Gold cup. They didn’t fire her…. I don’t see how losing that should be an option.

            Egos at work.

  10. Siberian says:

    The Algarve Cup results were pretty terrible for the #1 team in the world. I don’t follow the team close enough to know how seriously they take that competition though. Anything less than winning the World Cup is a disappointment for the USWNT.

    • Joyce says:

      Algarve is the only tournament they play prior to World Cup against some of the best teams in the world. It is an important tournament. Their results is only an indication of where they were headed with Tom at the helm. They lost their rhythmn and chemistry with constant changes. While I understand the point of planning for the future, you don’t do it that drastically, turning a winning team with winning formula into a chaotic disorganized bunch.

      • Anton says:

        Algarve isn’t that important. The real point of the tournament is to tinker with lineups and formations and see what works in a somewhat legitimate tournament.

        If you just go with all the veterans in that tournament, you’re not learning anything.

  11. John says:

    If it’s a players revolt as rumored then no doubt it had to do with the older players getting pissy about being phased out. Which, frankly, was something that needed to be done.

  12. hm says:

    I don’t get it.

    the USWNT is the best women’s soccer team on the planet. 48 matches unbeaten

    the only thing we haven’t won lately is women’s world cup, last 1 we were runner up right? We have so much talent that our WOMEN’S B TEAM would be ranked number 2 in the world

    Veterans have to know they are on their last legs. WE have to bleed in the young players to replace them. It always happens. Are the vets annoyed that their 100-200 K a season paydays is coming to an end or what?

  13. CW in LA says:

    I was never very excited with Sermanni, but the timing of this is extremely weird.

    A much greater obstacle for the USWNT, in my opinion, is the sporadic interest Gulati & pals tend to give it.

  14. Paul McNally says:

    Transition from hearlded starters should be a slow process. Giving younger kids their shot a good thing but not at the expense of continuity and awarenesd of one another’s abilitirs.
    Tom made changes too rapidly.

    • DB says:

      True, but U.S. Soccer killed six good months of transition time by having that victory tour after the Olympics. 10 games with a fixed veteran roster including players who were ready to move on (Mitts).

  15. EspinDOHla says:

    Man, is there going to be a weekly Sunday press release that includes a firing!?!?

  16. chris_thebassplayer says:

    Too bad Sermanni couldn’t survive the growing pains of trying to tactically improve the team while bringing in the right young players to play a possession game. Maybe it was too much at one time, but there is no half way point between hoofing it to Wambach and playing a possession based game like Japan. He clearly didn’t think he could play his tactics with the old guard. There were probably more than a few vets that didn’t want to see the lofty stature of the team compromised by poor results due to his roster flux and tactical changes. Overall, I think it’s a poor move to let players that should be close to retirement have so much sway. Isn’t the consensus that the game is evolving and we can’t rely on our athleticism to stay ahead of the pack? There are clearly other nations that play better ball than we do. Sermanni was picked to transition our game, which was not going to be an easy short term task. He should have been given an appropriate amount of time to do that. He only needed results when it mattered, not in friendlies…this feels like a step backwards.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Well said, Chris BassPlaya.
      Not sure what to think?,
      time will tell maybe as soon as next China match, like who’s starting, etc.
      It is a difficult transition they are going through, and one that is needed to be made.
      One can see about a ten to a dozen long time veterans that need to stay,
      As for the rest, maybe it’s time to move on?.

  17. JoeW says:

    Sweet Gezzus, could people please stop talking about the US Women being the #1 team in the world and how 2 games at the Algarve got Sermani fired?

    1. The US Women last won a WC in 1999. We’ve won 2 out of 6, the 1996 WC was won on our home soil (a HUGE edge). As for the unbeaten streak and the FIFA #1 ranking, those are nice but really not much of a metric–most of the world’s federations don’t bother doing much with their women unless the WC is approaching. So we tend to beat up on teams that are unprepared while our ladies have had a month’s residency or multiple warmups. Brasil–arguably one of the 3-4 most skilled women’s teams in the world–didn’t play a match the first half of 2013 while the American women played 9. In 2012, the US women played 32 matches and Brasil played 13. Don’t get me wrong, winning Olympic Gold or have long unbeaten streaks are pretty nice. But the US Women are not obviously the best team in the world. They not only lost to Japan in the last WC but I felt that France was a far more impressive team tactically and technically. And the WC performance means that we’re in the same group as Germany and Norway.

    Reading between the lines, you have Wambach complaining b/c she wanted to go with 3 forwards (which may or may not make sense) and Wambach said that the coach said no to the idea. And Morgan said that players were complaining to her via texts. Whether this was a mutiny with a group of the players going to the USSF and demanding a change OR the USSF hearing about the player discontent, checking with them, and then acting, in either case it seems like record had very little to do with this decision.

    • RB says:

      You make some good points. However your “1.” paragraph just goes to the extreme in the opposite direction as those you initially complain about, which is no more helpful overall in assessing the situation properly.

  18. Brain Guy says:

    How would you line to be the next coach, knowing (as seems to be the case) that the players took down your predecessor?

    Wondering why Brian Strauss didn’t break this story.

    • wood chip zip says:

      Because he didn’t have to. The Abby & co broke the story for everyone. Just made me NOT a fan of the USWNT. Good luck girls but I won’t be watching anymore.

      • Brain Guy says:

        Understood. It was just a little reference to Strauss’s experience in reporting on dissension within the MNT.

      • Sahul Najib says:

        I stopped watching US WNT after their WWC 2nd place celebration tour on TV. If that one Brasil player did not fake an injury, US most likely loses that game. We would have seen player changes then. Pia stuck with 2 terrible defenders on that team.

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  24. RB says:

    Interesting piece for Fox by Leander Schaerlaeckens where Sermanni says perhaps he is to blame for not having sensed something but that he had no idea they were letting him go. Even says that Fox was setting up an interview with him through USSF for tonight, and so that as of Saturday night, there was still no indication of the change…

  25. SoccerGal says:

    Who EXACTLY are the VETERANS that everyone is talking about? Names 1 of them? 2? Who? Can 1 person take down the coach?

    • user222 says:

      abby, rapinoe, cheney, rampone, buehler…. to name a few….

      Tom Sermani is a good coach. In eight years, he did a wonderful job mixing vets and younger players for the Australian women’s national team but it is hard to imagine someone coaching the same team beyond eight years… no matter who the coach is, he/she has to move on.

      Wamback, Solo, Lloyd, Rampone, Buehler, and other players are getting older and their replacements need to be found.

      it’s been known a rift between Sermani and USSF was happening. It seems Tom Sermani was concerned about blending in younger players (as he should) while the USSF and its president Gulati is more concern about the revenue the USWNT produces while touring the states playing friendly games.

      Thousands of little girls and their parents who attend these games pay top dollar in traveling and ticket expenses. They want to see the old USWNT warriors and “heroes” play and score goals… they don’t know who Brian, Dunn, JJ, Horan, Tymrak, Kagan, etc, are. The “why is Abby on the bench”, “why can’t Alex come by and sign an autograph for my little girl” complains are very common.

      It is very simple, to president Gulati this is a business, fans won’t come and see the USWNT if the old warriors don’t play every single friendly…. while Tom Sermani is concerned about the quality of the product he’s trying to build for the next 6-8 years.

      A big thanks to Tom… he won the Algarve 2013 although he lost the 2014 version. Thank you for giving more playing time to Becky Sauerbrunn and Sydney Leroux,

      Tom was not afraid to expand the player pool and bring in the young guns. For those casual followers and young fans, they now know about Kristen Press, Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Julie Johnston, Lyndey Horan, Ashlyn Harris, Whitney Engen, Kristie Mewis, Samantha Mewis, Megan Klingenberg Brooks, Tymrak, Kagan, Killian, etc.

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  27. Emma says:

    I watched all the US-games, lots of others plus US-practicees at Algarve. 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 experiment-mode, not in World-Cup mode!
    Problem two: TS had no concept, no plan for experiments, rotated his Players in and out with the help of a wheel of fortune.
    Players seemed drilled NOT to shoot on Goal, only play for Possession, which looked completely awkward, led to endless useless passing-plays sideways and backwards and frustration visibly mounted. 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. Afterwards an unfazed TS spoke of having dominated the games statistically, of “should have, would have” and seemed perfectly fine with his creations of mayhem. He must have been in denial – worse, not even understanding what happened.
    Now he is totally blindsided, what a surprise, his second name must be “clueless”.
    I am happy that this desaster is over with.
    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!

    • The Garrincha says:

      Emma, I do not disagree with everything you said.
      Funny though, in my best estimation TS, was only a healthy “Baby Horse”, and 3 or 4 others players away from having what I would have considered there strongest squad moving forward this world cup cycle.
      I guess that’s the deal don’t rock the boat too much until after the next WC, win or lose?, then you can blow the whole thing up.

      • Emma says:

        “Blow the whole Thing up” will not work – in case USWNT qualifies for the Olympics one year later, at least. That Chance was now – and might be wasted …

        • The Garrincha says:

          Emma, You know what I mean.
          OK, let’s give the two or three old holdouts until next Olympics.
          But we all know it’s the world cup that matters.
          And If you are talking sports at all, you understand what it means to tear it down/build it up/blow it up etc.

          Hey I got an idea, why don’t you share with us who you think should stay and who should go?.
          Because I got a half a mind to start a complete player rating scale.
          However, I and others to be sure, would love to know what names you got on the brain?.

  28. Steve Johnson says:

    The Inmates are running the asylum.

  29. Cynthia says:

    Has anybody considered that maybe he did something inappropriate that was beyond any bounds of reconciliation, and when it was reported they immediately let him go? It was so abrupt, even if the players were threatening a strike or quitting (which of course they don’t really want to do), they weren’t going to do it Sunday night, and probably not before the next game against China, so why the hurry?

    And in my opinion, the veterans are still kicking ass, and the chemistry of a team is the most important factor in success, especially in high stress environments like the WC. Tinkering is fun, but slash and burn and rebuild destroys morale.

  30. jmot says:

    “Sermanni’s tendency to rotate starting lineups frequently”, “because line up changes could be factor” , “Tom likes to switch up the line up quite a bit”, “it’s harder to get a rhythm”, “He also tinkered with lineups incessantly”, “his vision didn’t include a set starting 11, and the group of starters would change from game to game”.

    The article says it all. Sermanni’s continual shake up of the lineup, was hurting the ‘rhythm’ of the team in general. The players realized this, and the people higher up in US Soccer did also. This was without question, the right move. Semanni’s ‘direction’ was the wrong direction.

    I’m a big fan of the USWNT. Couldn’t be more impressed with how these athletes strive to be the best that each of them can be. They have that fight in their hearts, that driven desire to be the best. Am also impressed with how they hug and celebrate with each other after every goal. No matter who gets the goal, it’s a team effort, and they ALL celebrate, because they ALL contribute.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Funny this whole comfort thing and rhythm and all, stop it, please!,
      it’s borderline offensive to people who have any semblance of understanding about soccer..
      We are talking about professionals, you play with whomever is on the field with you,
      That’s what you do, if one cannot adapt, perhaps they are not physically, technically tactically, good enough to adapt and adjust to styles, formations?, etc.
      Some people talk like this is the rec league, or club team, you get to choose.
      No, we are talking about, The USWNT.