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List of Americans Abroad

Best U.S. effort came a game late, beating Norway for World Cup third place.

Solo dropped from team before World Cup third-place match with Norway.

U.S. Women's World Cup fortunes declined quickly in rout by Brazil.

Brazil rolls to 4-0 victory over Americans in World Cup semifinal.

Scurry to replace Solo in goal for World Cup semifinal with Brazil.

Without best effort, U.S. still dumps England 3-0 in World Cup quarterfinals.

Despite taking group title, U.S. must improve to achieve World Cup goals.

Despite being dominated, U.S. rallies to draw North Korea 2-2 in Women's World Cup.

Despite being dominated, U.S. rallies to draw North Korea 2-2 in Women's World Cup.

Wambach hurts toe in 4-0 romp over Finland in final Cup tune-up.

Wambach hurts toe in 4-0 romp over Finland in final Cup tune-up.

Wambach nets pair, UNC quartet adds four in 6-2 rout of Canada.

Schedule for World Cup prep matches is set.

Ryan, Lilly to visit China for Women's World Cup draw.

Lilly scores two more in U.S.'s 5-0 rout of Mexico.

Wambach's two goals, Lloyd strike beat Sweden 3-2, earn Algarve final.

U.S. women

Sundhage is hired to lead Americans to Olympic gold medal.

By Robert Wagman

(Tuesday, November 13, 2007) -- For the first time, the United States Soccer Federation has reached outside of the U.S. for a coach for its women's national team.

Sweden's Pia Sundhage, with long experience on the international scene and a former head coach of the Boston Breakers in the now defunct Women's United Soccer Association, was hired to lead the U.S. team through the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Sundhage replaces Greg Ryan, who led the U.S. to a 45-1-9 (.900) record in nearly three years on the job, but was fired after the Americans were consistently disappointing in finishing third in September's Women's World Cup. Ryan's situation was not helped when he inexplicably replaced regular goalkeeper Hope Solo with Briana Scurry for the 4-0 semifinal loss to Brazil, a move that drew international disdain.

Sundhage (pronounced Soond-hahg-EH) will immediately begin preparing for the Summer Games in August. No dates have been set for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, which includes nations from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

It is anticipated qualifying will be held early in 2008. It would take a major upset for the Americans not to earn one of CONCACAF's two berths in the 12-country Olympic tourney.

Sundhage, 47, was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Charge for the first two years of the WUSA, before becoming head coach of Boston for 2003, the league's final year. The Breakers, who had not made the playoffs in the first two seasons, finished with the best record in the league at 10-4-7, but it was the fourth-place Washington Freedom that took the championship in the playoffs.

Sundhage most recently served as an assistant to Marika Domanski-Lyfors for China in the recent World Cup.

"Pia is a highly accomplished player and coach with the vision to guide our women's national team into this next phase," USSF president Sunil Gulati said in a telephone conference. "She brings a fresh perspective and a tremendous amount of experience to the job. She knows the international game and has a great track record of not only winning, but getting the most out of players and teams. We feel that she is a great fit for this team moving forward."

In addition to being the first foreign-born coach, she is the second woman to take the helm of the U.S. women. April Heinrichs, a former star player and long-time assistant who led the U.S. to a 87-17-20 (.782) and the 2004 Olympic gold medal while serving as head coach from 2000-2005, was the first woman to lead the team.

Sundhage served as a scout for Heinrichs during the 2004 Olympics.

"Of course, I am very excited and happy that I have this opportunity," Sundhage said in the phone conference. "I see myself as being a part of a group that wants to be challenged. In order to be successful, I do think it is important that the coaching staff and the players know that we create our own environment. We are the environment that brings out the best performances in each other. In coaching, it's about communication, so feedback is important and that is something that will help improve our team as we develop the way we will play."

Well-respected as a coach, just as she was highly-regarded as one of the world's all-time best players during an international career that spanned 22 years, Sundhage started her coaching career, while also playing, at the Swedish club Hammarby 1992-1994. She also coached Sweden's youth national teams for 11 years from 1990-2001, coaching the under-16s, U-19s and U-21s.

After her retirement as a player from the international game in 1996, she became head coach of Sweden's under-19 women. leading the team to one gold medal and two bronze medals at the European Championships. She has also served as a scout for Sweden's senior team during the 1997 European Championships, the 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups, and the 2000 Olympics.

Sundhage has also worked for world governing body FIFA on its technical study group staff for the 2004 Under-20 Women's World Championship in Thailand.

Sundhage's first games as U.S. coach will come in January at the Four Nations Tournament in China, where she worked leading up to the recent Women's World Cup under Domanski-Lyfors, the long-time Sweden coach. Dates and venues for the Four Nations event have yet to be confirmed.

While Sundhage is the first coach to come from outside the U.S., three others were foreign born. The team's first coach Mike Ryan was born in Ireland, but relocated to the United States in 1958 at age 23). Anson Dorrance was born in India and Ryan was born in Germany.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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