Guest-blogger Brian Boswell, coach of Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax America Women of the Women’s Premier Soccer League, a team that is usually a contender for the national championship, is familiar with many of the prospective candidates for the U.S. Women’s National Team coaching job.
For instance, he coached Carin Gabarra (Jennings) when she was growing up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. In a recent e-mail to me she cited him as one of two local youth coaches (Bill Merrill was the other) who helped provide a solid foundation to her career.
Here, he handicaps the field of potential successors to Greg Ryan, who was fired Monday:
There are two main female candidates, UCLA and Under-20 U.S. Womens National Team coach Jill Ellis and Navys Carin Gabarra Jennings, a former U.S. National Team star who grew up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Under Ellis, UCLA is a perennial NCAA championship contender.
As coach of the U.S. U-20 team, she has the twin advantages of access to the inner workings of the U.S. Soccer Federation and knowledge of up and coming young players.
I have always found her to easy to talk to and a good person to coach against.
Would Jill give up the security of UCLA for the national team job? Her ego may say yes, but I dont know. She would do a good job if it was offered to her.
Gabarra has done a great job at Navy; military academies are difficult places to recruit players.
One of the original greats of U.S. soccer, she was MVP of the 1991 Womens World Cup and an Olympic gold medal winner.
Her husband, Jim, who coaches the Washington Freedom, is another candidate for the job. While she would have no problem commanding the respect of the U.S. team, shes had great offers before. Would she leave Jim in Washington D.C.? I dont think so.
The male candidates are former U.S. National Team Coach Tony DiCicco, Santa Clara University Coach Jerry Smith, the aforementioned Jim Gabarra, former coach of the WUSAs San Jose CyberRays Ian Sawyers and Australian National Team Coach Tom Sermanni.
DiCicco, coach of Soccer Plus Connecticut in the WPSL, has also just accepted the position of coach of the Boston franchise in the new womens professional league.
If the U.S. are looking for a coach just through next years Olympics, DiCicco, the highest profile candidate is the man.
Advantage: he knows the players and more importantly the inner workings of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Disadvantage: he isnt the coach now, so something was wrong for Tony and the job to part company previously.
I have coached against Tony, who is courteous, professional, knows the game and a competitor. The post for the short term would still leave Tony available for Boston.
Smith has created a soccer dynasty at Santa Clara, the little Catholic school near San Jose.
He has the knowledge and ability to do a great job with the U.S. and has interviewed before for the job.
The husband of outspoken former U.S. national team star Brandi Chastain, he is open and honest and likely told the U.S. Soccer Federation things that at the time they did not want to hear.
Now its time for them to listen.
Jim Gabarra, coached the Washington Freedom to the 2007 W-League championship and also coached the club in the WUSA when the roster included Mia Hamm (a member of the three-person U.S. Soccer coach search committee).
He has coached at the highest level with the best players, has great knowledge of the womens game and has accepted a position to coach in the new womens professional league with the Washington franchise.
But I dont think he would leave Washington, Carin and their three kids to spend a lot of time in California.
Brit Sawyers, who has the instant credibility that comes from being married to former U.S. National Team star Julie Foudy, has been out of coaching at the top level for some time developing his wifes camps. Still, that would not stop him doing a good job with the U.S.
Sermanni, whose Australian team has put in some good World Cup performances, is surely worth a look. A Scot with a great sense of humor, he was coach of the New York Power in the WUSA, so knows the womens game on the national level and has great club experience.
If the U.S. Soccer Federation decide they need a quick fix, DiCicco has the inside track.
If its someone for the Olympics it could be Smith or Sermanni, although any of the others are capable of getting the U.S. back on top.