Ryan out as coach of U.S. women
Greg Ryan, who compiled a 45-1-9 record but lost the plot during the Women’s World Cup in China last month, was dismissed Monday as coach of the United States women’s national soccer team.
At the same time, the federation reiterated its support for Hope Solo, the goalkeeper whose criticism of Ryan at the World Cup led to a rift in the team that has yet to be fully repaired.
Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer, made the announcement after Dan Flynn, the federation’s general secretary, had informed Ryan on Sunday that his contract would not be renewed when it expires Dec. 31.
“Generally speaking, I would say he was very thankful to have had the opportunity to have coached the national team and I think he was disappointed in not having a chance to go after Olympic gold,” Flynn said Monday afternoon.
Gulati, Flynn and former two-time world and two-time Olympic champion Mia Hamm will form a committee that will seek a successor for Ryan, who took over the post in January 2005.
“It’s my expectation that we will complete that process within 30 to 45 days, if not sooner,” Gulati said. “The timing is rather critical because the team is in competition relatively early in the New Year.”
As the defending Olympic champion, the U.S. has only 10 months to prepare to defend its title at the Beijing Games.
Ryan became the first U.S. women’s head coach to leave the position without having won a world championship or an Olympic gold medal. His predecessors, Anson Dorrance, Tony DiCicco and April Heinrichs, achieved one or both. Ryan was an assistant under Heinrich on the team that won the gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
China, however, was his undoing, when his tactical and personnel decisions were brought sharply into question.
The U.S. team’s performance at the World Cup will be remembered not for the fact that it won the bronze medal but for the goalkeeper controversy that preceded the team’s 4-0 loss to a faster and technically superior Brazil team in the semifinals.
Ryan’s decision to bench Solo before that game and put backup Briana Scurry into the nets sparked an emotional outburst from Solo that led to her not being on the bench for the third-place game against Norway.
Gulati said the incident would not affect Solo’s future with the national team.
“Hope is not suspended from the team,” he said. “Any further discussion or decisions about Hope would be up to the new head coach, but there is not an issue with the federation in any way, shape or form about her ongoing participation.”
Meanwhile, Ryan’s successor could be a familiar figure, given the short time before the U.S. returns to competition in the Four Nations tournament in China in January and the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, followed by Olympic qualifying.
DiCicco, under whom the U.S. women won the first Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the World Cup in 1999, has been mentioned as a candidate, either in the long term or as an interim coach through the Beijing Olympics.
“Tony . . . obviously is a very successful coach,” Gulati said. “He’s coached at a high level and he knows the American game, so he fits those criteria . . . but I’m not going to talk about whether we have talked to him or are going to.”