If Pia Sundhage was a double-Gold Medal winning soccer coach, she was more like a triple-Gold Medal winning motivator. Figuratively speaking, of course.
The women of the U.S. national team loved playing for her and thrived under Sundhage’s infectious enthusiasm. Her players are prone to use words like “joy” and “spirit” when they speak of the woman whose happy and peppy ways were a stark contrast to the more dour Greg Ryan, who left the position when things went fairly sideways in 2007.
Sundhage finished her time in charge of the national team Wednesday night, as players sent their master motivator out the right way with a resounding 6-2 win over Australia.
Not long before kickoff, ESPNW posted a piece from Tobin Heath, one of the players who grew and thrived under Sundhage. (Heath, in fact, embodies the very type of player Sundhage is encouraging the United States to cultivate as things move forward, a technically gifted sort whose performance relies more on skill and wits than speed and athleticism.)
A short excerpt from Heath’s kind words about the coach who brought her along:
Pia always, always, looks at the positives in any situation, and that has been a huge key to our success. We have such high expectations — in every game and in every tournament we’re expected to win — and her outlook helps us to deal with the pressure, and push ourselves to another level. Her enthusiasm is so evident in everything she does. She gets so excited when a player does something well, and she has never lost that passion. It’s pretty cool she loves the game that much.”
Last night’s win at a sold-out Dicks Sporting Goods Park outside of Denver set the punctuation mark on a five-year run that included those two Olympic Gold medals and a second-place finish at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Sundhage, who will now take over the women’s national team in her native Sweden, was 91-6-10 as United States coach.
The game in 100 words (or less): It would appear, based on the optics of the Seattle Sounders’ 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City, a result that sees Sigi Schmid’s side fall 10 points adrift of the Western Conference playoff places, that the legendary coach’s time in the Emerald City has run out. It wasn’t the final score, or the fact that the Sounders were out-shot 18-1 on the afternoon, but the manner in which they arrived at those embarrassing figures — essentially giving up and waving the white flag over the game’s final 30 minutes — that sends a message loudly and clearly to Sounders’ front office: we aren’t playing for this guy anymore. Here’s the problem for Seattle, though: Jason Kreis, the presumptive Sigi replacement with an eye toward reuniting with Garth Lagerwey, was announced as Orlando City SC’s new head coach on Tuesday. Nothing would make the Sounders look more unprepared than firing Schmid five days after the best available MLS coach was plucked off the market.
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Three moments that mattered
21′ — Dwyer heads home from Espinoza’s cross for 1-0 — Defending optional for Seattle, as everyone in and around the penalty area did very little to close down or mark anyone in white.
45+3′ — Peterson goes upper-90 for 2-0 — First-time hit, upper-90. Jacob Peterson makes it 2-0.
79′ — Dwyer makes it 3-0 after Sounders all but quit — Questionable “effort” from the Sounders, to be sure.
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Man of the match: Dom Dwyer
Goalscorers: Dwyer (21′, 79′), Peterson (45+3′)
Patrick Vieira is very mad, and with good reason, but he might want to reconsider where he directs his displeasure following the New York City FC’s latest embarrassment at the hands of the New York Red Bulls, 4-1 on Sunday .
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In Vieira’s estimation, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch and referee Mark Geiger were co-men of the match; Marsch for his pre-game comments — “crying,” in Vieira’s words — and Geiger for playing into Marsch’s devious, revolutionary plan.
Adults … they’re just like us!
In the two sides’ three meetings this season, the Red Bulls won twice and lost once, by a combined score of 11-3.
New York Red Bulls rode a wave of first half goals to a heated and entertaining 4-1 win over New York City FC on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Sacha Kljestan had two assists and converted a penalty, while Bradley Wright-Phillips netted a brace and Ronald Zubar (!!) also scored for RBNY. If you’re keeping score at home that’s a combined 11-1 score line for RBNY in home Derby games this season.
Tommy McNamara scored a gorgeous goal before halftime to give City life. Aside from McNamara cranking a second-half effort off the crossbar, the rest of the life came in the form of pushing, shoving and fouling. Frank Lampard mixed it up with Kljestan, while Ethan White took two yellows for a late red card.
[ MORE: A Pogba Primer ]
The win gives the Red Bulls bragging rights for at least the regular season, as RBNY won 2 of 3 season matches against its area rivals.
NYC remains atop the East, while the Red Bulls are five points back in fourth.
Here’s the goal that got us started, as Kljestan slipped through BWP for a finish he’ll rarely miss (even when ice-cold).
Zubar then headed in a Kljestan pass to make it 2-0 before a handball allowed Kljestan to collect a goal for himself.
BWP restored the three-goal lead with 20 minutes to play, as he won a 50-50 ball played over the top and had all day to toy with Josh Saunders en route to his 11th of the season.
The New York Red Bulls were cruising at home, leading 3-0 in what looked like it could be another blowout New York Derby.
Enter Tommy Mac.
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The Clemson man and NYC fan favorite unleashed an absolute laser past Luis Robles to make it 3-1 and give City a look at a comeback.
The goal gives McNamara four to go with eight assists this season. Now can NYC keep the comeback working in the second half?