By CAITLIN MURRAY
The wait for a permanent replacement for fired U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni shouldn’t last too much longer.
A new coach should be hired in the next few weeks, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati told NBC Sports on Saturday.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll be done by the middle of May,” Gulati said. “In the next week or so we’ll reach out to three or four candidates that are on the very short list and talk to them in the next two weeks, and hopefully by mid-May have a decision on which way we’re going on this.”
Sermanni had been fired on April 6 after leading the USWNT to a victory against China in the first game of a two-game set. Jill Ellis, U.S. Soccer’s development director, took over as interim coach immediately and led the USWNT to victory again on April 10 to finish the China set.
Ellis is considered a top contender for the job, along with assistant coach Omid Namazi and others, who likely make up the short list of candidates.
Speaking to NBC Sports in the USWNT’s first match after Sermanni’s dismissal, Heather O’Reilly offered the clearest hints as to why Sermanni had been fired after Gulati declined specifics about Sermanni’s fit within the group and instead pointed to two losses during March’s Algarve Cup.
“I think that we need a coach that’s going to blend this team,” O’Reilly said. “Blend the old, blend the new, blend an aggressive style, blend a possession-oriented style and we just need a coach that is going to have the right cultural fit for this group.”
Ask about the “cultural fit” O’Reilly mentioned, Gulati cited the strong winning record of the American squad and the need for a strong leader.
“I think there’s some attributes about Americans that Heather was probably referring to. One of the things is this team has obviously been very successful,” Gulati said on Saturday. “And I think she was also probably referring to someone that can take a very strong leadership position. We’ll certainly be looking for that and they’ve got to be able to do it very quickly since qualifying is around the corner and then hopefully the World Cup next summer.”
The USWNT must get through CONCACAF World Cup qualifers in October in Mexico before the World Cup next summer in Canada.
Hours after U.S. Soccer announced the firing, Sermanni spoke to SBI and wondered if his open communication style and tendency to talk through the game was part of the reason the job didn’t work out.
The USWNT has a friendly against their North American rivals in Winnipeg, Canada on May 8, which will likely be Ellis’ last as interim coach.
What do you think of this news? Does having a coach in place by May give them the time they need to prepare for qualifers? Who do you think the next coach will be?
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