Tony DiCicco

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US Soccer legend Tony DiCicco dies

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Former U.S. women’s national team head coach and National Soccer Hall of Famer Tony DiCicco has died at the age of 68.

His son Anthony DiCicco spoke of “health challenges” for his father in a statement released on behalf of the family.

DiCicco was best known for coaching the USWNT to World Cup glory in 1999 as he transitioned from an All-American career at Springfield College as a goalkeeper to playing in the American Soccer League for five years and then the U.S. men’s national team before his storied coaching career.

A much-loved figure in the U.S. soccer community, DiCicco was also a prominent broadcaster on USWNT games with both ESPN and Fox Sports over the years.

DiCicco coached the USWNT for five years from 1994-99 and also led the U.S. women’s team to Olympic Gold glory in 1996 in Atlanta.

Below is a statement from the DiCicco family on Tony’s passing.

Chastain, MacMillan inducted into US Soccer Hall of Fame

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Brandi Chastain looked at the assembled crowd in a tent under the rain and addressed former coach Tony DiCicco, who had just introduced her at the induction ceremony for the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

[ MORE: USMNT smashes six past Honduras in CONCACAF WCQ ]

“Thank you, not just for today but for every day that you gave me the chance to play for the women’s national team, and for having the confidence in me and the guts to tell me I wasn’t going to be a forward,” she said.

Chastain, a forward on the 1991 World Cup champions and a left back whose penalty kick won a shootout for the 1999 title, was inducted Friday night along with midfielder Shannon MacMillan, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion three years later.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s win over Honduras ]

The ceremony was held before the U.S. men played Honduras in a World Cup qualifier.

Remembered most for pulling off her shirt after her World Cup-winning goal and celebrating in a sports bra, Chastain grew up in San Jose and talked about her early days playing youth soccer in the area, starting with the Quakettes. After winning her first World Cup title, she was left off the 1995 roster. She revived her career as a defender.

“Change is good. Though, scary, it’s good. And I think we would all benefit from seeing change as an opportunity for growth and development, and for a new adventure,” she said.

Now 38, Chastain scored 30 goals in 192 international appearances and also won a pair of Olympic gold medals. MacMillan, 42, had 60 in 176 international games.

“It was always such a massive honor that gave me chills every time I walked in that locker room, whether it was my first cap, my 100th cap or my last cap,” MacMillan said. “It was something that I never took for granted.”

Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy was given the Colin Jose Media Award.

The Hall’s building in Oneonta, New York, closed in 2010 and a new Hall is being built in Frisco, Texas.

US Soccer fires USWNT coach Tom Sermanni after win over China

Tom Sermanni
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Tom Sermanni was fired by US Soccer after just over a year on the job in a surprising move announced Sunday night.

Sermanni’s 15 months as head coach of the United States women’s national team will be remembered as a tumultuous time. Sure, there were plenty of whispers of discord, but there had to be an adjustment period. The connected folks I’ve reached out to were surprised by the news, if not “shocked.”

The firing comes mere hours after Sermanni’s women beat China 2-0 in the first of two international friendlies against the Asian side, completing his tenure with a record of 18W-4D-2L.

The statements from US Soccer president Sunil Gulati and Sermanni:

“We want to thank Tom for his service over the past year and half, but we felt that we needed to go in a different direction at this time. We will begin looking for a new coach immediately to guide our Women’s National Team toward qualifying for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.” — Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer president

“I’m disappointed that things didn’t work out, but I’d like to thank U.S. Soccer for the opportunity to have coached this team and also the staff and players for all their hard work.” — Sermanni

Bears a scent of the players running the ship, that’s for sure.

The Washington Post’s Steve Goff says the US has named Jill Ellis the interim coach for Thursday’s match in San Diego. Ellis was the interim boss when Pia Sundhage stepped down, and boasts a 5W-2D-0L record that includes three wins over China.

Under Sermanni, the States saw its 43-match unbeaten run end en route to a very disappointing seventh-place finish at the Algarve Cup. They lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2001 before saving a little face with a win over North Korea.

How changed is the list of potential candidates discussed the last time the job was open? Paul Riley, Randy Waldrum and Tony DiCicco will see their names in the news along Aaran Lines and Cindy Parlow Cone.

And how about Ellis? She’s been the USSF Development Director since 2010 and boasts a college head coaching record of 248W-14D-63L at UCLA and Illinois before coaching the US U-20 and U-21.

Regardless, surprise is reverberating around US Soccer:

2013 NWSL preview: Boston Breakers

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Western New York Flash may have the last three titles (in three different leagues), but the Boston Breakers carry the claim of being the only franchise in the new National Women’s Soccer League to have also played in the WUSA and WPS, the first two attempts at professional leagues in the U.S.

The Breakers are now led by Lisa Cole, who was Tony DiCicco’s assistant in WPS and who took over as head coach last year, when Boston played in the semi-pro WPSL Elite League during the year of limbo for a women’s top flight.

Cole’s team should have no trouble scoring goals, but it lacks a proven No. 1 goalkeeper, and without that, it could be a very long season for Boston. That could prove for some high-scoring, entertaining games if the Breakers just aim to outscore the opponent.

Who you know: Boston was allocated speedy U.S. forward Sydney Leroux (pictured) and fan favorite right midfielder Heather O’Reilly to build the attack around. U.S. defender Heather Mitts announced her retirement just last month and would have been the other allocated U.S. player for the Breakers. This will be Leroux’s first professional league after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Beat in 2012 but never seeing the field due to WPS folding. O’Reilly has been in top form this calendar year, which is a good sign for Boston and the United States.

Who you should know: Besides the fact that these two players are top contenders for coolest hairdos in the league, Lianne Sanderson and Kyah Simon could end up being the life of Boston’s attack — the engines that setup Leroux and O’Reilly. Veteran defenders Cat Whitehill and Kia McNeill will be tasked with leading the backs…and the team.

What it means: Like a few other teams in the league, Boston’s outlook is something of a tossup. The Breakers are likely a middle of the table team, but whether or not that means sneaking into the Top 4 and the playoffs or dropping toward the bottom of the table will likely depend on coaching and how well the backline performs. The potent attack will need to live up to that billing, too.

Boston opens the season at home against the Washington Spirit on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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