US Women’s National Team (USWNT) Coach Pia Sundhage called it quits after Wednesday’s exhibition match vs. Australia in Commerce City, Colorado.
After five years as the boss, Sundhage has become the most recognized coach in women’s soccer, and rightly so. At the helm of the USWNT, Pia has won three Algarve Cup titles (2008, 2010, 2011), back to back Olympic Gold (2008, 2012) and finished second at the World Cup in 2011 after a 12 year hiatus from the competitions final match.
Pia has brought the sport of women’s soccer back from the dead. She is the new Brandy Chastain, minus the sports bra and Sports Illustrated cover. She has sparked the love for the game in her players, which in turn has sparked girls the world over to love competitive soccer again. To say she will be missed is an understatement.
Sundhage has long since expressed her desire to coach her native Sweden, and come December 1st, she will finally get to live out her dream. Her time with the U.S has fared extremely well, and in essence, there were five contributing factors that led to her tenure being so remarkably successful.
“They can’t just hire anyone for her spot,” she said. ” If they dont find the right person, the sport itself will go backwards.”
Those words alone tell you just what Sundage has meant to US women’s soccer, and how much the team respects her.
“With Pia, we always had open communication,” said U.S. team captain Christine Rampone. “In a meeting session, she always listened to everyone’s viewpoint and not just to her own. She’s made me look at the game in so many different ways, and because of her, I’ve loved the game even more.”
The Will To Win
Under Sundage, the USWNT boasts an impressive 90-6-10 record. Not only that, the team has been infamous for being the comeback kids in the second 45 minutes. She knows her players and knows how to get them motivated to win games. He coaching style is unlike any other of her predecessors, and that is why she was brought to the US in the first place.
When Pia took over as USWNT coach, not much was expected of the team as far as wins and tournaments. Pia’s new system was supposed to take years to kick in and produce results. Pia brought all of those women together, made them believe in themselves and the results came quicker than ever. Her first squad consisted of women who were said to be over the hill and holding roles on the team until the younger players fit into Pia’s system. Well, the likes of Christie Rampone at 37 years young, Shannon Boxx at 35, and arguably the best player the US has ever seen in Abby Wambach at 32, are laughing at those that doubted Pia.
Watching the USWNT over the last few years, one has seen players like Carli Lloyd and Amy LePeilbet play anywhere from the backline, to midfield, to up top. These players have truly bought into Pia’s system, trusted her and done whatever was asked of them in order to win. Players accepted their roles, and excelled no matter where they were placed.
Marketability and Brand Awareness
The surge in wins for the USWNT has brought the sport back into the limelight where it deserves to be. These women are amazing athletes and this sport is beautiful to watch because of them. Names like Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach are household now, and these women have become prominent figures on a global stage. They have become role models for little girls, and they have represented their country well in the limelight. Soccer is growing at an alarming rate, and people that truly love the sport have never been happier.
Pia Sundhage has earned and deserved everything that she has acquired over her time in the US. The Swedes are inheriting a true legend. She has done so much for the sport and so much for all that have played for her. Her personality shone through every single time she was on the sideline, her love of the game overwhelmingly evident. Surely nothing but more good things are awaiting her in her career.