Former U.S. women’s national team coach and current Sweden coach Pia Sundhage criticized several of her former players, making a number of strong remarks about her time coaching the American team in an interview with The New York Times.
Sundhage coached the U.S. to two Olympic gold medals, going 91-6-10 during her tenure before leaving to coach Sweden’s national team in December 2012.
Sweden will meet the United States in a Group D matchup at the Women’s World Cup on Friday.
Sundage said her players would complain about spending too much time in hotels.
“I never understood it. I love living in hotels; everything is taken care of, and you spend your entire day on football. This is perfect,” she said.
She admitted she did not have close relationships with her players while she was coaching the Americans and said there was no reason to do so.
“You know, I talk to them about their mom, their dad, their boyfriend, their girlfriend or whatever, and you know what? It goes in one ear and out the other,” she said, according to The New York Times. “I try. I really try. I remember I sat with Amy Rodriguez for a long time once, talking and talking, and still I don’t know her family.”
“She’s married. ... I think?” she said. “I read about it maybe."
In the interview, she mentioned numerous other players, including captain and midfielder Carli Lloyd, saying she was “a challenge to coach.”
“When she felt that we had faith in her, she could be one of the best players. But if she began to question that faith, she could be one of the worst,” Sundhage said, according to The New York Times.
She said defender Christie Rampone was “probably the best captain I’ve ever seen, including myself” and added that goalkeeper Hope Solo was also a challenge to coach, “especially when it comes to trouble.”
Sundhage insisted the USA's all-time leading scorer Abby Wambach would be coming off the bench if she were still coaching the team. Wambach started and played all 90 minutes in the team's opening World Cup game, a 3-1 victory over Australia.
“I said that to Abby,” she said. “I told her: ‘If I stayed, you would be a sub. The best sub ever. But a sub.’ There was no question about that in my mind.”
- Scooby Axson