In a move that comes as a surprise to no one, US Soccer announced on Saturday morning that women’s head coach Pia Sundhage is resigning to pursue opportunities in her home country of Sweden. Sundhage had hinted that she would be moving on after this past summer’s Olympic Games in London.
Sundhage, who just finished leading her team to an Olympic gold medal, has been with the team for the past 5 years. She took over in November of 2007 after the team was struggling to find its identity and had seemed to have lost its edge that it held for years. With her technical and tactical knowledge as a former player and her positive coaching style, Sundhage seemed to revitalize the US team as they went 88-6-10 under her watch.
The US lost in a shootout final to Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup but then rebounded and won gold at this year’s Olympic games in London. After the match Sundhage was seen smiling and dancing as she would often do after her team posted a positive result, and was even caught on camera playing an air guitar to Bruce Springsteen’s, “Born in the USA.”
Swedish women’s national team head coach Thomas Dennerby has recently resigned from his role and many believe Sundhage will take over that position. US Soccer has said that a search for a new coach will begin immediately, but there is no set timetable for when a decision will be determined.
“It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them,” said Sundhage. “I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better. 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.”
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati also weighted in with his thoughts. “After the Olympics we had discussions and early in the process it became clear that Pia was very interested in returning home to Sweden. 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.”