U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati is dismissing the idea that any sort of player mutiny led to the firing of women’s coach Tom Sermanni.
The USSF fired Sermanni on Sunday, hours after an exhibition win over China. The surprising move came 16 months after Sermanni was put in charge.
“Our dialogue with the players is pretty much ongoing, both on the men’s side and the women’s side. Sometimes that is at a higher decibel than other times,” Gulati said. “This isn’t a group of players coming to seek us out.”
The federation will begin looking for a new coach immediately, with the Women’s World Cup coming up next year and qualifying starting this fall.
Sermanni said he was “blindsided” by the move.
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.
“The standards for this team are very high. … That doesn’t mean one loss – or even two losses – would necessitate, or in our view, push us toward a change,” Gulati said. “It’s rare that everyone in a particular team finds a style that they buy into, but it’s important that the collective buy into the direction and how you’re moving forward, and we had some concerns there.”