When Tom Sermanni shook hands with Pia Sundhage after her last game as coach of the U.S. women’s soccer team, he should have asked her for a few tips.
Sermanni was hired Tuesday to replace Sundhage, who led the Americans to back-to-back Olympic gold medals and their first World Cup final in 12 years.
Sermanni has spent the past eight years as Australia’s coach, taking the Matildas to the quarterfinals of the last two Women’s World Cups.
“U.S. Soccer has always been at the forefront of supporting the women’s game, and it’s exciting to coach the team in this next chapter of its history,” Sermanni said.
Sermanni, a 58-year-old originally from Glasgow, Scotland, has spent much of the past 20 years in Australia, where he is credited with transforming the Matildas into one of the world’s top programs.
The Australians are ninth in the world, matching their highest ranking.
Sermanni also coached Australia from 1994-97, leading the Matildas to their first appearance in a World Cup, the 1995 tournament in Sweden. He was among 10 candidates for FIFA’s 2011 women’s coach of the year.
Sermanni was selected after a five-person search committee, which included Mia Hamm, considered more than 30 candidates. The current U.S. players said they didn’t care whether the new coach was male or female, American or foreign-born, so long as the right coach was selected.
The coaches of both U.S. national teams are foreign-born, with German-born Jurgen Klinsmann coaching the men.
“Someone who’s good enough, that’s all I care about,” star forward Abby Wambach said earlier this month.
Sundhage was 91-6-10 in her five years with the Americans. She resigned, then was named coach of the women’s team in her native Sweden.