November 6, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
THE WHOLE PACKAGE
Mix of international, US experience made Sermanni US Soccerís choice for WNT coach
Executive Editor, Soccer News Net
To long time observers of the U.S. Women's National Team, the hiring of Tom Sermanni, a foreign-born male, as the team's newest coach might not make a lot of sense, what with so many qualified Americans of both genders available.
|US Soccer President Sunil Gulati: "In an ideal world, hiring an American and a female would be perfect, but it's not an ideal world. Itís rarely a tie and in the end you want to have the best coach, and in the end we did that."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
But Sermanni, who has spent a total of 11 years coaching the Australian national team, had something none of the other candidates interviewed by U.S. Soccer had. International experience.
"We had a great list of people that we interviewed," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in an interview with Soccer News Net. "We have a number of people that are qualified and we were very pleased with the overall list of coaches that we met with , and out of that group, the seven I referred to, five were American-based. We had some very good candidates.
"In an ideal world, hiring an American and a female would be perfect, but it's not an ideal world. Itís rarely a tie and in the end you want to have the best coach, and in the end we did that."
Sermanni coached Australia in both the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup tournaments, reaching the quarterfinal stage at both events. That eight-year period was Sermanni's second stint with Australia. He also coached the Matildas from 1994 through 1997, during which time he led the team to the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup in Sweden.
"The criteria were, we wanted someone who could continue to guide the Women's National Team at a very high level, to keep us at the right place internationally, which right now is at the top, and also to become involved in a broader scope on player development, and the latter would depend on a couple of things, time in the course of a four-year cycle, and second their interest and abilities in that area," Gulati said in introducing the Scotland-born Sermanni.
"In Tom Sermanni we have someone who can do all of that. We have someone who has a terrific reputation as a coach, both at a professional level and at a personal level dealing with players.
In speaking with Soccer News Net, Gulati said Sermanni's international experience was not the only key factor in his hiring. Another was the fact that he knows the U.S. market, having worked in the WUSA for three years nearly a decade ago.
"The advantage in some cases to having an international coach are they bring something different, so they are from outside our system, and while there are some big disadvantages to that, in terms of knowing the player pool, in terms of knowing the college setup, knowing the youth development set up and so on and so forth, there is also the plus, which not knowing all that in some ways is a plus because they bring some new ideas that didnít come up through our system. They can look at it with a fresh set of eyes and so on. That can be some plusses."
Even with the historical success of the U.S. Women's program, the group of former players who have gone into coaching have done so in the U.S.
"The catch-22 obviously is how do you get somebody with international experience if they havenít had an opportunity to do that in the U.S.?
"That's a big plus. Pia had it primarily as a player but had also coached in China, had coached in the WUSA, so she brought a different mix of experience. Tom obviously, he has an extraordinary background in terms of experience internationally, at the World Cup in Japan and Australia. He's not the only candidate that might have had that type of experience but he is certainly a good candidate."