Forward Alex Morgan credited Sundhage with getting her to this point in her career, and said she changed the U.S. players’ approach to the game.
“Pia believed in me from Day One,” Morgan said. “She gave me my first cap [national team invitation] and helped me grow on this team and take baby steps to be the player that I’ve become. She never pushed me along into a different position or forced me to do anything. It was always letting my play on the field how I wanted to play and her guiding me a little bit here and there. I’ll always appreciate that.”
Sundhage wiped her tears as the crowd chanted her name Wednesday night.
“It’s unreal. I come from a small town in Sweden where I wasn’t supposed to play soccer because girls didn’t play soccer. Now, here I am standing in front of a great crowd and hearing my named shouted. It’s a dream. I’m living a dream.”
She said she’ll most remember the American never-say-die attitude.
“Soccer players with an American attitude of never give up and there’s always a way to win,” she said. “We’ve come back so many times in many games since 2008 and it is contagious. I’ve got a little bit of that winning attitude. I’m very grateful for everything they’ve done for me and I think I’m a much better coach today than I was five years ago.”
U.S. soccer federation president Sunil Gulati said a search committee has been assembled — including U.S. team legend Mia Hamm — and a replacement could be hired as early as next month. No word on whether musical talent is a prerequisite.
• Meet Ken Arena: New FIU men’s soccer coach Ken (Son of Bruce) Arena ( Bruce’s son) and his staff would like to meet FIU alumni and the South Florida soccer community, so they are hosting a “Meet the FIU Coaches” event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 7 at Woody’s West End Tavern in Miami Springs (600 Payne Dr.) Admission is $20 and includes hors d’oeuvres and beer. The Manchester United-Newcastle match will be shown, and FIU’s 1982 national championship team will be honored.
Information: call Boomer Bray 305-496-7171.
• Local events: The 2012 Pro Footvolley Tour makes a stop in Deerfield Beach this weekend. Think beach volleyball with a soccer ball and no hands. … The Miami Soccer Festival will be held Sept. 29-30 at Kendall Soccer Park (8011 SW 127 Ave). All-comers tournament for ages five and up, kid zone, food, entertainment.