Tom Sermanni was fired Sunday as coach of the U.S. women's soccer team just seven months before the start of World Cup qualifying.
Sermanni, who replaced Pia Sundhage 15 months ago, was relieved of his duties after a 2-0 win over China on Sunday in Colorado. Former UCLA Coach Jill Ellis will take over on an interim basis starting with Thursday's rematch with China in San Diego.
Ellis, U.S. Soccer's director of development, coached seven games at the end of 2012, going 5-0-2.
Sermanni, formerly coach of the Australian women's team, was 18-2-4 with the U.S. But the team struggled mightily in last month's prestigious Algarve Cup tournament in Portugal, finishing seventh after losing to Sweden, 1-0, and Denmark, 5-3. The loss to Sweden, now coached by Sundhage, snapped a 43-match unbeaten streak for the Americans.
Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, said the move was made because "we felt we needed to go in a different direction."
Some players have reportedly complained that they weren't improving under Sermanni, who used more than four dozen players in the 24 games he coached, including 12 who made their national team debuts.
Sermanni, 59, was reportedly surprised by the news and did not speak to reporters, issuing a statement through U.S. Soccer.
"I'm disappointed that things didn't work out, but I'd like to thank U.S. Soccer for the opportunity to have coached this team and also the staff and players for their hard work," Sermanni said in a release.
Sermanni's contract, which pays him around $200,000 a year, runs through the end of 2016. Gulati said the search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately.