SEATTLE — Tom Sermanni’s philosophy as the United States women’s national team head coach was the right one, Megan Rapinoe told reporters Sunday. It might have been his lack of an imposing personality that got him fired.
“I think a lot of what Tom brought, just in terms of his philosophy and the way that he wanted to play: really high-tempo, pressing, attacking style,” Rapinoe said of what she would like out of a new coach. “For this group, because we have so many big personalities, I think the manager also has to have a big personality but in a way that sort of knows how to deal with everything. Maybe that was an area that U.S. Soccer felt that Tom’s style isn’t so dominant and direct and in-your-face; it’s much more laid back. Maybe we need a mix.”
Rapinoe spoke to the media after she scored the third goal in the Seattle Reign’s first National Women’s Soccer League game of the season, a 3-0 home win over the Boston Breakers. Rapinoe fielded multiple questions about Sermanni’s firing afterward, in addition to talking about the team’s strong performance.
U.S. Soccer announced Sermanni’s firing hours after a 2-0 friendly win over China on April 6. In a conference call with reporters the next day, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati offered no concrete explanation other than to say the team needed a different direction. Under interim manager Jill Ellis a few days later, the USA again topped China, this time 3-0.
On Sunday, Rapinoe reiterated the federation’s assertion that the players had nothing to do with Sermanni’s dismissal.
“You never want to go through a coaching change mid-cycle,” Rapinoe said. “I just felt like U.S. Soccer wanted to go in a different direction. It wasn’t our decision as a team, but we’ll go forward with that. We’re a pretty strong bunch, and we have pretty lofty goals. For us, the manager is very important in a lot of ways, but also, we have a job to do and that’s to go out and win.”
As for the timing of the decision, she said it was “kind of a shock” for all the players.
“It took a few days to settle in, but now we’re just eager to hear who the new manager will be,” Rapinoe said. “I think our team kind of strives on weirdness sometimes. We have that ‘rah-rah, rally’ sort of American mentality that we can all kind of get around. … We could let it bother us, but we have bigger things on our mind than that. We didn’t want that to be a distraction, and I know Tom wouldn’t want that, either. For us to kind of mope around and be sad about that is just not really an option.”