The U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Monday that the contract of U.S. Women's National Team head coach Greg Ryan would not be renewed at the end of the year, ending Ryan's three-year tenure in charge of the team.
"At the conclusion of each world championship cycle, every national team's performance is closely analyzed," U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a conference call. "There are many factors considered in this analysis, and it certainly isn't just about one loss or one particular coaching decision. In this case, after looking closely at the last six weeks and the team's performance at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, we have made a decision to change leadership of the U.S. Women's National Team."
While Gulati can talk all he wants about the many factors that led to the decision not to retain Ryan, it really does boil down to just one loss and one particular coaching decision.
Why else would a coach that has compiled a 45-1-9 mark get the boot?
Ryan's predecessor, April Heinrichs, put together an 87-17-20 record, failed to win either the 2000 Olympics or the 2003 World Cup - which was hosted by the United States - and was rumored to have strained relations with many of the team's players. However, Heinrichs was brought back for the 2004 Olympics, while Ryan is out after one loss in one major competition.
However, that one loss and that one decision far outweighs Ryan's 45 wins.
His decision to bench starting keeper Hope Solo and her 300-minute scoreless streak in favor of rusty veteran Briana Scurry for the Brazil game, which the team lost 4-0, was the ultimate factor in Ryan's firing.
When Solo pouted about the decision like a spoiled 12-year-old, it deflected some of the criticism from Ryan, but now that we have had some time to digest what happened, the decision to fire Ryan is the right one.
The U.S. Women's team has almost every advantage over the rest of the world. In many countries, women's sports are not looked upon too favorably, so those teams receive little in the way of financial backing and endorsements.
The Americans had a full Nike ad campaign promoting the team in this country, as well as plenty of financial support, Sports Network reports.
A day after U.S. Soccer officials announced Ryan's contract wouldn't be renewed, Ryan said winning the bronze medal at the 2007 Women's World Cup was a nice achievement, the AP reports.
"I am pleased with what we achieved over the past three years," Ryan said in an e-mail exchange with The Associated Press on Tuesday. "It is amazing that this 'new' team lost only one game during this period.
"I am very proud of the bronze medal that we won in the 2007 World Cup. Playing in the most difficult group and on foreign soil, these players earned third place, matching the finish our team had in 2003 playing at home."