USWNT: What Really Happened To Tom Sermanni?


Not to bring up a sore topic but it’s been over seven months and it seems the U.S Women’s National Team has started to hit their stride under direction of their new head coach, Jillian Ellis. In recent news, the USWNT qualified for the 2015 FIFA World Cup and breezed through qualifying with an undefeated run and a 21-0 goal differential. While Ellis is no stranger to the game and has had more than enough experience working with the current national team pool, it is odd that we are still left in the dark on the abrupt firing of the USWNT’s former head coach, Tom Sermanni.

The news came back in April when the team only had a few months before CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying and a little more than a year before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

After former USWNT coach, Pia Sundhage left in 2011,  Sermanni was hired out of an extremely competitive pool of potential candidates. President of U.S Soccer, Sunil Gulati, and many players on the national team were fully confident in Sermanni’s hiring. For the players and the federation it was just the next step on the arduous road to World Cup victory.

"“After an extensive search and interview process, we believe Tom Sermanni is the right person at the right time to lead our Women’s National Team. He has the knowledge, experience and vision to take on the challenge of keeping our team at the top of the world. He has a tremendous passion for the game, knows the American players, understands our system and knows the process of preparing a team for a World Cup tournament. We’re tremendously excited to have him on board as we look forward to qualification for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.”-Sunil Gulati"

After such confidence in this appointment what was U.S Soccer thinking by firing Sermanni with the World Cup only a few months away? We have no evidence to go off except for the fact that during Sermanni’s stint with the USWNT, the team finished 2013 with a record of 13-0-3 and won the Algarve Cup in 2013.

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As fans we started to see young talent receive call-ups to the full national team and Sermanni was not afraid to experiment with new lineups and formations in international competitions. Sermanni was a forward thinker and he was working to develop the team for the future with older core players like Christie Rampone (39), Abby Wambach (34), and Carli Lloyd (32) in the system. At the international level, the USWNT is one of the most experienced teams and for seasoned veterans and starters on the team these radical changes in personnel and line-ups may have led to frustration as this often lead to a lack of consistency on the field.

In an exclusive Bleacher Report Interview, John D. Halloran interviewed Alex Morgan and asked her how Sermanni’s coaching style in bringing in 44 players to different camps in 2013 affected team chemistry.

"There have definitely been camps with different players, different faces coming in and a lot of the European players haven’t been there as much as we’re used to seeing them… I think leading up to World Cup qualifying we’re going to go back to seeing the same faces in terms of having more of a set roster, rather than bringing in up to 30 players at camp.-Alex Morgan"

Perhaps some of this inconsistency came through in March of 2014 when we saw the worst team performance in Algarve Cup history for the USWNT. As the No. 1 team in the world and clear favorites, they finished seventh in the 2014 tournament. It’s possible that this performance may have caused internal unrest and led to Sermanni’s release. The only thing is, it doesn’t make sense that U.S Soccer would not release a clear-cut answer on the is decision unless there was something more.

Sermanni had a grace period, where he was unable to speak on the topic for six months after his departure from U.S Soccer. It’s been seven months so the question is: when will Sermanni talk? Or will he talk? If he hasn’t said anything by now he isn’t going to. Sermanni is a well-respected coach in the international soccer community. His professionalism will keep him from drawing attention to the issue and unless U.S Soccer has a change of heart, this topic will forever remain a mystery.

The USWNT are moving past this issue and looking to compete against top quality opponents this December in Brazil and next March at the 2015 Algarve Cup. The pressure is on Ellis to get her team into top form come next June. For many players in the current national team pool this may very well be their last shot at World Cup glory.

The clock is ticking.