Tom Sermanni. Sermanni was hired Tuesday to replace Sundhage, who led the Americans to back-to-back Olympic gold medals and their first World Cup final in 12 years. Sermanni has spent the last eight years as Australia’s coach, taking the Matildas to the quarterfinals of the last two Women’s World Cups. At first glance, it may not seem like the coach of a team barely cracking the top 10 would the coach for the US.
However, ”he has the knowledge, experience and vision to take on the challenge of keeping our team at the top of the world,” according to U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati who said so in a statement. ”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.”
Sermanni, a 58-year-old originally from Glasgow, Scotland, has spent much of the last 20 years in Australia, where he is credited with transforming the Matildas into one of the world’s top women’s squads. In addition to their quarterfinal appearances at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, the young Australians won the 2010 Asian Women’s Cup. Their runner-up finish at the same tournament in 2006 earned Sermanni the Asian Football Confederation coach of the year honors.
The Australians are ninth in the world, matching their highest ranking.
Sermanni also coached Australia from 1994-97, leading the Matildas to their first appearance in a World Cup, the 1995 tournament in Sweden. He was among 10 candidates for FIFA’s 2011 Women’s Coach of the Year.
”Tom’s legacy for Women’s Football in Australia will be felt for many years to come as he has helped transform our women’s national team to a very professional and competitive group of players,” Ben Buckley, CEO of Football Federation Australia, said in a statement. ”Tom will always be considered a close friend of Australian football no matter where he is in the world.”
Note, Sermanni has coached in the WUSA league as well and has a relationship with many of the veteran players of the USWNT.
Sermanni was selected after a five-person search committee, which included Mia Hamm, considered more than 30 candidates. The current U.S. players said they didn’t care whether the new coach was male or female, American or foreign-born, so long as the right coach was selected.
The coaches of both U.S. national teams are foreigners, with German-born Jurgen Klinsmann, a longtime California resident, coaching the men.