CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Abby Wambach quickly dismissed any notion that players on the U.S. women’s soccer team had anything to do with the surprising firing of coach Tom Sermanni.
Says Wambach: “None of it’s true.”
Wambach and Hope Solo say if the players did have a role in Sermanni’s firing, it was by not playing better during a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Algarve Cup in Portugal last month.
Says Wambach: “I wish he was a jerk in some ways because it would be easier. But that’s just not the case. He’s such a good guy.”
Tuesday’s practice was the first since Sermanni was fired on Sunday after an exhibition victory over China
Jill Ellis, the USSF’s director of development, will serve as interim coach. She went 5-0-2 in that role in 2012. The women’s team faces China again on Thursday in San Diego.
Sermanni helped the U.S. to a 13-0-3 record last year, but the Americans went 1-2-1 at the Algarve Cup, the last major tournament for the U.S. before World Cup qualifying. The seventh-place finish included a 1-0 loss to Sweden and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, ending a two-year, 43-game unbeaten streak. That was the first loss following a 16-0-4 start under Sermanni.
Sermanni said he was “blindsided” by the move.
“To put it in a nutshell, they just felt that the way I was managing the team wasn’t working,” Sermanni told SI.com. “It could be the U.S. team is a unique team that has certain demands that perhaps my management style or my philosophy didn’t quite jell with.”
Goalkeeper Hope Solo tweeted Monday: “It’s a somber day for us all today. Tom is simply a classy man in every way, and he will certainly be missed.”
Sermanni was hired in October 2012, but Ellis served as interim coach until he took over that January. Sermanni made his debut in a 4-1 win over his native Scotland on Feb. 10, 2013. He spent the previous eight years coaching Australia’s women’s team, leading the Matildas to the quarterfinals of the last two World Cups.