• Saturday Sep 01, 2012

    Sundhage to leave as US women's coach

    CHICAGO - Pia Sundhage, who led the United States to two Olympic gold medals, will not return to coach the U.S. women's national team, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Saturday.

    The announcement came just over three weeks after the Americans won the 2012 title at the London Games and just hours before the United States began its five-game Olympic "Victory Tour" with an 8-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in Rochester, New York.

    "After the Olympics we had discussions and early in the process it became clear that Pia was very interested in returning home to Sweden," USSF President Sunil Gulati said in a release. "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."

    Sunhdage, whose contract expires November 30, will remain as coach through a pair of friendly matches against Australia in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson on September 16 and three days later in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Gulati said.

    The United States has two other matches scheduled for later this year, both against Germany, on October 20 in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview and three days later in East Hartford, Connecticut.

    Under Sundhage, who took over the U.S. team after it finished third at the 2007 Women's World Cup, the United States won 88 of 104 matches, with 10 draws and only six losses. Besides the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medals, the United States also finished runner-up at the 2011 Women's World Cup, won two CONCACAF Olympic women's qualifying titles and three Algarve Cup crowns.

    "I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better,"Sundhage said in the USSF release. "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."

    Gulati and USSF General Secretary Dan Flynn will begin the search for Sundhage's replacement, but have no timetable, the USSF said.

    "I wouldn't be surprised if (Sundhage) ends up coaching the Swedish (women's ) national team and that's her dream," Gulati said. "As I said to Pia when it first came up, we are going to be very, very supportive of her winning every silver medal out there."

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