Sundhage leaving as US women’s soccer coach

Coach returning to native Sweden

Pia Sundhage, head coach of the United States Womens Soccer team, announced that she would be leaving the US team to return to Sweden and coach.
Pia Sundhage, head coach of the United States Womens Soccer team, announced that she would be leaving the US team to return to Sweden and coach. –Getty Images

Once the US women’s soccer team’s victory tour suddenly turned into a farewell tour for coach Pia Sundhage, Abby Wambach — in her homecoming, no less — wanted to send her off on a fitting note Saturday in Rochester, N.Y.

Wambach scored twice and added an assist in an 8-0 exhibition win over Costa Rica, before heading to the bench and giving Sundhage — who will coach her native Sweden — a long, warm hug.

‘‘I never do that,’’ Wambach said, referring to the hug. ‘‘That’s a sign of where it’s going to be hard not to leave a field and get into the locker room and not see her. I love Pia so much, because she has shown me what it’s like to love the game.’’


Hours before kickoff, Sundhage informed the players of her decision to step down as coach and return to her native Sweden.

She will depart following a successful five-year term in which she led the Americans to back-to-back gold medals and their first World Cup final in 12 years.

‘‘It’s really a difficult decision to make as you can imagine being around those guys. They make me look good,’’ Sundhage said, pointing to her players following the game. Ultimately, she said, the decision came down to her heart in pursuing what she considers her dream job.

The Swedish Football Association announced on its website Saturday that it has reached a deal with Sundhage to take over as women’s coach Dec. 1, a day after her contract with US Soccer expires.

Sundhage is still the face of women’s soccer in Sweden, which she led to the title as a player at the first European Women’s Championship in 1984 and the bronze medal at the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991.

She will stay as the US coach for the next two games before leaving her job.

US Soccer will begin searching for a new coach immediately, but has no timetable for hiring a successor. There is no major tournament until the next World Cup in 2015.


The Americans improved to 89-6-10 since Sundhage took over in 2007.


Crew 2, Impact 1 — Chad Marshall tied it in the 80th minute and Emilio Renteria got the winner in the 93d as host Columbus rallied past Montreal. Federico Higuain assisted on both goals.

Sporting KC 2, Toronto FC 1 — Oriol Rosell scored his first MLS goal in the 87th minute and host Sporting Kansas City moved into a tie for the overall points lead with San Jose.

Galaxy 2, Whitecaps 0 — Juninho scored in the first half, David Beckham struck in the second, and Josh Saunders didn’t face a shot in earning his seventh shutout for host Los Angeles.

Real Salt Lake 1, D.C. United 0 — At Sandy, Utah, Will Johnson scored in the 49th minute to give RSL its first league victory in more than a month.

Jump To Comments