Pia Sundhage has decided to step down as manager of the United States women's team, ending a successful five-year stint with the side. Sundhage declined to extend her stay as she wanted to coach in her home country Sweden.
"After the Olympics we had discussions and early in the process it became clear that Pia was very interested in returning home to Sweden," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a statement.
"It certainly wasn't an easy decision for U.S. Soccer or Pia. She deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the amazing success the U.S. Women's National Team had during the past five years. On behalf of U.S. Soccer, we sincerely appreciate Pia's hard work, dedication and commitment to the organization.
"We wish her all the best in the future."
Sundhage was quick to thank the U.S. players who helped made her time at the team a successful one.
"It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them," said Sundhage in a statement. "I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better. "
She added, "Before I took this job, I always admired the spirit and character of the U.S. team, but to experience that first-hand on the training field and from the bench as their coach was truly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Although it is time to move on, I'd like to thank U.S. Soccer for this wonderful opportunity and I wish this team and the players all the best in the future."
Gulati and U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General Dan Flynn will begin the search process for a new coach immediately, but there is no set timetable for when a decision will be determined.
Sundhage was hired as head coach of the U.S. women in November of 2007 and led the team to a 88-6-10 record. During her five years with the Stars and Stripes, the Swedish coach brought a European style of play to the national side. The U.S. quickly drew a large following thanks to Sundhage's emphasis on an attractive style of play. She led to the team to the 2011 World Cup final where it lost in the final match against Japan and finally tasted success with the team this summer as it won the Gold Medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
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