Week’s Links: Reports, reactions on new USWNT coach Tom Sermanni
By Charles Boehm
He wasn’t a hotly discussed candidate – in fact, most pundits overlooked him entirely during U.S. Soccer’s lengthy selection process, with Jeff Kassouf calling the choice “a slight surprise” – but the hiring of Tom Sermanni as the U.S. Women’s National Team boss has generally been well-received among the women’s soccer media.
Veteran reporter Beau Dure was among the many who came away from Sermanni’s Wednesday press blitz impressed by the Scotsman, noting that “he managed to come across as open-minded without being ignorant” with regards to the U.S. player pool and the challenges that lie ahead.
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle sees many similarities between Sermanni and his widely-loved predecessor Pia Sundhage, and reckons that the longtime coach of the Australian women’s national team edged out dozens of other contenders for the job by virtue of his “extensive international experience.” Carlisle does acknowledge that “the hire does represent something of a blow to the American coaching community,” though.
Meanwhile Richard Farley of NBC Sports’ ProSoccerTalk offers an in-depth breakdown of Sermanni’s leadership qualities and tactical tendencies, and also notes that he “was responsible for Australia’s entire women’s development effort, effectively serving as steward for all the talent coming into his senior team” as the young Matildas rocketed up the FIFA World Rankings under his watch.
Noting the USWNT’s scintillating winning percentage over the years, Brian Straus of the Sporting News wonders if Sermanni can maintain that dominance while still pushing forward a stylistic evolution that Sundhage, for all her expertise, could not fully achieve. Similarly, AP’s Nancy Armour believes the team will experience “subtle changes” under their new coach, while also warning that “Sermanni’s biggest challenge might be managing the personalities within the team.”
A few observers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the federation’s short list being dominated by male candidates, most notably USA Today’s Christine Brennan, who called it “a terrible indictment of the feeder system for girls and women in leadership positions in the game.”
That perspective was echoed by the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Hersh, but roundly rejected by women’s sports blogger and former Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor/reporter Wendy Parker as a faulty mindset “centered more on the career prospects of adults and the symbolic value they convey than what might ultimately benefit female players.”
And Soccer America’s Mike Woitalla focuses on Sermanni’s wise words regarding youth development, an already-pressing area which will become even more so as Abby Wambach and the rest of the USWNT’s veteran standouts approach the end of their careers.