Tom Sermanni

More on the new U.S. Women’s National Team head coach

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Most fans are unfamiliar with Tom Sermanni, but given the nature of the women’s soccer world, all of U.S. Soccer’s potential hires were relative unknowns. Without a professional league on these shores, we don’t get the constant exposure that makes names for famous names on the men’s side. Who are the José Mourinho, Alex Ferguson, or even Dominic Kinnear of the women’s game? For most, the answer is “who knows?”

So don’t let Sermanni’s lack of name recognition deter you. Go onto your social networking site of choice, search around, and you’ll see a healthy amount of respect underscoring discussion of today’s appointment. Sermanni’s reported affability makes it hard for anybody to be too flummoxed by today’s decision.

Don’t underestimate the importance of personality. The U.S. women are a very unique group. That so many strong personalities are able to coexist is indicative of a potentially fragile balance (include obligatory 2007 reference here). Even if it’s not, this is a veteran team with a proven record of success. Having a personality that can promote continuity is a major plus.

Sermanni’s professional soccer life started as a midfielder in Scotland in 1973. He’d eventually have spells in England with Blackpool before ending his career in New Zealand. Soon after, his coaching career began.

Most of Sermanni’s experience has been in Oceania and Asia, initially coaching men in the North South Wales state league. In 1994, he got his first major coaching job when he began his first stint with Australia’s women’s national team. During his three-year spell with the Maltidas, Sermanni qualified Australia for their first World Cup, though the team lost all three games at China 1995 and failed to qualify for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

In 1997, Sermanni jumped back into the men’s game with Sanfrecce Hiroshima of the J-League before moving back to Australia in 1999 to manage the Canberra Cosmos of the now-defunct National Soccer League. He’d stay with the Cosmos until 2001, when he moved back into the women’s game.

That’s when Sermanni ventured to the United States to be part of the Women’s United Soccer Association, serving as an assistant coach with the San Jose CyberRays from 2001 to 2002. In 2003, Sermanni got the head coaching gig with the New York Power, leading the team to a fifth-place finish (after the team came in eighth the year before).

When WUSA folded in 2003, Sermanni briefly coached in Malaysia before starting his second spell with the Matildas in 2004. Australia had qualified for two World Cups in his absence but had yet to win a match in tournament. Now the team was about to make the jump from Oceania to the Asian confederation, where Japan, China, and Korea DPR would all provide significant challenges.

Australia was immediately competitive. Thanks in part to hosting the 2006 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the Matildas took second place in their first Asian continental competition. Though they lost to China on penalty kicks in the final, they made their first impact on the continent with their semifinal victory over Japan. Four years later, Sermanni led the Matlidas to their first Asian title, defeating Korea DPR in 2010’s final.

Along the way, Australia started making progress in World Cups. When they showed up in 2007, Australia’s all-time record at finals was two draws, seven losses in nine games. The Maltidas only lost once in China, their 3-2 quarterfinal defeat to Brazil. Four years later, Sermanni’s team replicated the feat, making the quarterfinals before being eliminated by Sweden at Germany 2011.

That progress was about more than Sermanni’s senior level coaching. He was responsible for Australia’s entire women’s development effort, effectively serving as steward for all the talent coming into his senior team. When he returned to the head coach’s job, he sought to inject a more technical style into a team, a requirement in an Asian confederation known for that quality. The result was not only an extremely young team for Germany (average age: 21.7 years) but one that had begun shifting its approach.

It’s a the same type of shift the United States will have to undergo over the next three years. Sermanni instituted the change while Australia was stepping up in competition, yet he improved the team’s results. If the U.S. is going to start being a better possession team, Sermanni may be able to influence that change without sacrificing results.

As for how he’ll set up, there are some tendencies we see in Sermanni’s formations. He plays with four in defense, usually with two-woman midfields. For the most part, he’s played two forwards, one playing in support of the other. The numeric descriptions of the formations may change based on matchups, but those concepts – concepts we often see in the U.S. Women’s National Team – form the backbone.

His history may not be adorned with the type of major titles and lauded successes that could be linked to a job of this profile, and his name certainly doesn’t resonate, but that doesn’t matter. In a women’s coaching landscape devoid of Guardiolas and Capellos, Sermanni brings valuable experience to a team that’s going to have to change before Canada 2015. With a personality that’s unlikely to rock boats behind the scenes, he also represents a chance to maintain the team’s off-field balance.

Pukki hat trick leads Norwich past Newcastle (video)

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Norwich City gave its fans a day to remember in the Premier League, as Teemu Pukki scored a hat trick in the first top flight game at Carrow Road since 2016.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Saturday’s match finished 3-1, with Jonjo Shelvey scored a craft late concession for Newcastle but not enough to take any pressure off already-embattled manager Steve Bruce.

Former Atlanta United playmaker Miguel Almiron struggled for the second-straight week and record-signing Joelinton limped off the pitch for Newcastle.

Norwich hosts Chelsea next week while point-less Newcastle is away to Spurs.


3 things we learned

1. Top Teemu since Selanne: Preseason questions about whether the 29-goal Finn could bring his scoring prowess to the Premier League. Four goals in two matches answers that, and the quality of each lives outside of Fortune.

2. Steve Bruce gives doubters fuel: The Magpies’ already-embattled boss dropped young Sean Longstaff to the bench, but it’s not just about personnel; Newcastle looked unfit to rival a newly-promoted team from Moment No. 1. That’s terrible stuff.

3. Sweet revenge for Krul, Hanley: Former Newcastle No. 1 goalkeeper Krul and former Championship backup Hanley were in firm control even with Shelvey’s stoppage time goal.

Man of the Match: Teemu Pukki

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Liverpool edge past Saints in wild clash

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Liverpool rallied to beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday in a wild encounter on the South Coast.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino scored for Liverpool, while Danny Ings scored a crazy goal late on for Saints after a Adrian howler as they set up a pulsating finish.

Ings then whiffed on a glorious chance to make it 2-2 as Liverpool held on for the win.

The wins sees Liverpool make it two from two before they face Arsenal next time out, while Saints have lost their first two games of the season before heading to Sheffield United.


4 things we learned

1. Red-hot Sadio Mane the difference: He scored a stunner for the first goal, won the ball back for the second and forced Gunn into a brilliant stop from his header and set up Andrew Robertson with an audacious back heel. Mane was the difference and even though he returned late from the Africa Cup of Nations, he looks as a fresh as a daisy.

2. Saints’ defensive issues persist: Southampton were their own worst enemies. They gave Mane too much space for the first goal and then needlessly tried to play out of the back for the second. Saints have brought in Kevin Danso but he didn’t make his debut and moving forward they need to stop silly defensive errors if they’re going to push away from another relegation scrap.

3. Liverpool shake off the rust, just: Jurgen Klopp will not be happy with this display overall. Liverpool turned it on at the start of the second half and almost tore Saints apart, but Adrian’s howler epitomized a shaky display and the Reds were lucky to leave with all three points.

4. Danny Ings should have been the hero: He jumped off the bench to score against his former club and he should have scored a second. Ings whiffed on a great cross from Yan Valery just after he had made it 2-1 and his anger was clear. Ings was left on the bench and came on and made a point, curling just over with another glorious effort. If he stays fit, he is still Saints’ biggest hope of finishing towards the top 10.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – Outrageous goal, lovely flicks and tricks and truly showed up against his former club. Wonderful showing from the Senegalese winger.


Saints started well as Che Adams almost nipped in front of Adrian and the goalkeeper then had his clearance blocked by James Ward-Prowse.

At the other end Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dragged a shot just wide, while Adrian made a fine save to deny Maya Yoshida from close range.

Southampton continued to cause Liverpool problems as Ryan Bertrand‘s cross was pushed away by Adrian and Yan Valery couldn’t finish. Mohamed Salah smashed over on the break as Liverpool struggled to get going in the first half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Che Adams nodded just over from inside the six yard box but the home team were then made to pay. Mane was given an extra yard in the box and curled home a stunner against his former club to put Liverpool ahead right on half time.

In the second half Angus Gunn came up with a huge save to deny Salah, who was clean through, while Saints continued to press hard for a way back into the game.

On the break Liverpool were rampant as Mane’s cross found Firmino but the Brazilian striker flicked his effort inches wide of the far post. Danny Ings jumped off the bench and curled inches over the bar as the former Liverpool forward came so close to an equalizer.

Firmino then made it 2-0 up the win as Mane won the ball back and the Brazilian cut inside and finished low. Gunn then denied both Mane and Robertson (the latter was denied after an audacious back heel from Mane) as Liverpool ended the game on fire.

However, Adrian then gifted Saints a way back into the game as he played the ball against Ings who slotted home to make it 2-1. Moments later Ings missed a glorious chance as Yan Valery played him in inside the six-yard box but the former Liverpool man couldn’t handle the bobble and flicked it wide.

Watch Live: Man City v. Spurs

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The marquee match of the week, and maybe the Premier League’s opening month, sees Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Both teams were dominant in Opening Day wins, though Spurs had to work a bit longer to find their finish.

Man City’s available subs for this match are filthy, with Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo, David Silva, and Fernandinho all options for Pep Guardiola (as well as Phil Foden and Claudio Bravo).

Giovani Lo Celso is on the bench for Spurs.

WATCH, STREAM: Wilson, Pukki score screamers amongst 10 a.m. ET kicks

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This season is going to be a challenge for Norwich City, but one of last season’s true heroes made sure the Canaries fans got a bit of home delight.

[ STREAM: All 10 a.m. ET kicks ]

Newcastle is visiting town on Saturday, and Teemu Pukki scored a delightful opener to give the Canaries a halftime lead.

It’s appropriate, as the volley takes a page out of Newcastle hero Alan Shearer’s playbook.

Norwich City 1-0 Newcastle UnitedSTREAM

Aston Villa 0-2 BournemouthSTREAM

And how about this from Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson, who is making Villa’s home return to the Premier League less than ideal.