Aug. 21, 2008
SHE'LL BE BACK
Sundhage to return as women's coach
By Michael Lewis
Beijing -- There will be no drama as to whether Pia Sundhage will be back as coach of the U.S. Women's National Team.
Both sides said so after the Americans secured their third gold medal in four tries in their 1-0 victory over Brazil Thursday night.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and general secretary Dan Flynn will have the first and last word on Sundhage, who is well liked by the players after eight months on the job. Hired last Nov. 13, Sundhage's contract runs through the Olympics, although Gulati said last year that if Sundhage did a good job, there was a good likelihood of extending her contract for several years.
Gulati strongly indicated that after the game.
"After the tournament, Dan and I do a very complete and thorough evaluation and analysis," Gulati said in the mixed zone. "Sometime between the final whistle and gold-medal ceremony we did that analysis."
Sundhage said she wants to comeback, adding that negotiations "will go pretty quickly."
Sundhage made some history by becoming the first foreigner to coach a team to a major FIFA tournament title. That includes five Women's World Cups and four Olympics.
"Well, that is something special," Sundhage said. "Of course. I have to say that when I got the job, that was special. They believed that I, a coach from Europe, would compete on an international level. I had that kind of feeling when I got the job."
Four years ago, the U.S. managed to survive a highly talented Brazilian side in Athens, Greece to win the Olympic crown, 2-1, on an extra-time goal by Abby Wambach.
The more minutes together, the better we played," Sundhage said. "The way we’ve been working for nine months with this team it’s about finding the rhythm in the attack, believe in the way we attack, and sharpen up the defending a little bit. I would say that the turning point was actually Norway. I don’t know how many team would come out of that kind of game, 2-0, after four minutes . . . but again, we’re not looking at the result, we’re looking at how we played. I think that is why we are standing here with the gold medal.”
The coach of a medal-winning team at the Olympics does not get a medal. Tony DiCicco (1996 gold) and April Heinrichs (2000 silver, 2004 gold) went home empty-handed