Ryan out as U.S. women’s soccer coach

October 24, 2007

gregryan.jpgGreg Ryan has to have one of the best records ever for a coach who was fired (or contract was not renewed).

45-1-9.

Obviously, he wasn’t fired for his overall won-loss record. He was probably let go for one or both of two reasons:

1) His team couldn’t win the Women’s World Cup and the U.S. Soccer Federation has high standards
2) His handling of the recent Hope Solo controversy

#1 is understandable. The U.S. should have high standards for women’s soccer, as we’re one of the few countries in the world that gives women anywhere close to equal chances as men to play organized sports. (Obviously, I mean at the non-professional level.)

#2 is fair. Ryan handled that situation pretty horribly. Hope Solo definitely shouldn’t have disagreed with her coach publicly about being benched despite playing well in the World Cup, especially saying that the only people who would have made the decision didn’t understand the sport of soccer.

But Ryan overreacted by exiling her from the team. A more intelligent coach would have diffused the matter internally by saying something like “I want her to be upset, I want all of my players to want to play every game”, or shifted the blame to himself, saying maybe he was wrong for starting Briana Scurry in the 4-0 loss.

Bonnie D. Ford at ESPN.com said it best:

The larger point is that discord is inevitable on real teams, and real teams are elastic enough to cope with dissent. That’s what Ryan should have told his players, rather than putting the goalkeeper in solitary — or Solo-tary — confinement.

Take the Solo-Ryan-Scurry scenario and substitute two NFL players and a coach. You think anyone would be talking about forgiveness? The players would take sides, the reporters would take notes and write stories, and the coaches would criticize the reporters. Then, most Sundays, those same players and coach would run out of the tunnel with the unified goal of kicking the other team’s butt.

Exactly. This is America for crying out loud. We regularly hear mainstream athletes say things that are far worse than anything Hope Solo ever said. But they aren’t kicked off of their teams the first time they second-guess a coach. It takes significantly more than that.

U.S. Soccer says they’ll be picking their next coach in the next 30 to 45 days.

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