The United States has fired Tom Sermanni as women's national team coach, ending a 16-month stint for the Scot in shocking fashion. Jill Ellis has been named interim manager.
Sermanni was hired in October of 2012 as the replacement for Pia Sundhage, who had managed the U.S. to a Women's World Cup final and an Olympics gold medal. The Scot took over on January 1, 2013 and had a very successful first year, leading the team to a 13-0-3 record. With no major tournaments until the 2015 World Cup, last year lacked stakes and was more about developing the team, but an undefeated year is impressive regardless.
This year started like 2013, with a win over Canada then two over Russia by a combined score of 15-0, but things went downhill from there. The Algarve Cup was a huge disappointment, as the U.S. drew Japan then lost to Sweden and Denmark, landing them in the seventh place match. There, they beat North Korea, but that couldn't salvage what had been a poor tournament for the team.
The decision to fire Sermanni comes within hours of a 2-0 win over China in their first match since the Algarve Cup. Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe scored goals as the U.S. looked to get closer to their best, but it didn't save Sermanni's job. Whether it was the recent struggles, a personal issue or something else that led to Sermanni's exit remains to be seen. There had been some rumblings of unhappy players under Sermanni, but those indications never seemed to put his job in danger, at least not at this point.
Ellis will lead the team against China on Thursday, when they play another friendly. The 47-year-old is the U.S. women's development director and was previously the manager of the U-21 and U-20 teams, as well as the head coach at UCLA.