It didn't take long for the three-person hiring committee to find a new head coach for the US women's national soccer team. Former Swedish superstar (her picture was on a Swedish stamp!) Pia Sundhage got the job yesterday (well it was announced yesterday). Her contract runs through the Olympics next summer. The explanation was that it's the only major tournament until the next World Cup in 2011 but I think it's pretty apparent that US Soccer wants to see what the first non-American coach and only the second woman can do with the team that seems to have a lot of talent but had a lackluster (for them) World Cup earlier this fall.
Despite the talented team members, Sundhage has a fairly tough job ahead of her. There are only nine months until the Olympics and in that time she has to make what looked like a fairly reticent team in the World Cup into the aggressive, offensive-minded team it seems they should be given the depth of talent.
But Sundhage has the experience and I think she will have the support of the current team members. After all Sundhage coached team captain Kristine Lilly when she was with the Boston Breakers of the WUSA. One has to think that this was a factor in the decision to give Sundhage the job. Lilly has a good relationship with her and Lilly's status as captain, a well-respected captain, means that the transition may be less awkward or tension-filled.
The first test for Sundhage and the team comes at the start of the new year. The Four Nations tournament is being held in China (lots of soccer action in China in a short amount of time!) in January.
Oh yeah, it looks like Sundhage is planning on keeping goalie Hope Solo on the team. No word on Briana Scurry but I would be surprised if she got released from the team before the Olympics.