Posted on September 1, 2012
The Pia Sundhage era is over with the U.S. women’s national team.
Sundhage, who directred the United States to a pair of Olympic gold medals and a second-place finish in the Women’s World Cup, has decided to return to his native Sweden to pursue other coaching opportunities.
Thomas Dennerby, who guided Sweden for eight years, stepped down as women’s coach on Aug. 22. The Swedes are the hosts of UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 and need a top-flight coach. Sundhage would be an obvious top candidate. She had coached in the U.S. since November 2007, taking over for Greg Ryan.
“It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them,” Sundhage said in a statement.
A search for a new coach will begin immediately. No timetable has been set for a decision.
“After the Olympics we had discussions and early in the process it became clear that Pia was very interested in returning home to Sweden,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “It certainly wasn’t an easy decision for U.S. Soccer or Pia. She deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the amazing success the U.S. Women’s National Team had during the past five years. On behalf of U.S. Soccer, we sincerely appreciate Pia’s hard work, dedication and commitment to the organization. We wish her all the best in the future.”
Sundhage is in Rochester, N.Y. for the start of a series of games commemorating the Americans’ tird consecutive gold medal and second during her tenure. The U.S. won gold in 2008 and 2012 and took second to Japan at the WWC in 2011.
“I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better,” Sundhage said in a statement. “Before I took this job, I always admired the spirit and character of the U.S. team, but to experience that first-hand on the training field and from the bench as their coach was truly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Although it is time to move on, I’d like to thank U.S. Soccer for this wonderful opportunity and I wish this team and the players all the best in the future.”
Sundhage compiled an 88-6-10 record. She helped the U.S. team continue to evolve its style of play technically and tactically in the increasingly competitive environment of women’s international soccer.
During the London Summer Games, Sundhage wanted the U.S. to play more of a possession game, while the team preferred more of a direct game. It made of an intriguing combination and sometimes clash of style, but it worked out in the end.
Pia Sundhage will pursue other opportunities in her native Sweden. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: North America, U.S.A., Women
Tags: 2011 Women's Worl Cup, 2012 London Olympics, Pia Sundage, Sunil Gulati