Hours after resigning as United States women's national team manager, Pia Sundhage was named the new manager of Sweden's women's national team. It is a return home for the Swede, who said on several occasions that she dreamed of managing her country.
Sundhage managed the U.S. on Saturday in their 8-0 friendly win over Costa Rica and will stay with the team through their next two matches, both friendlies against Australia. She will take over as Sweden manager on December 1.
Sweden are currently ranked fourth in the world and are coming off of a 2011 Women's World Cup in which they finished third. It was their second-best World Cup ever, with their 2003 runners-up finish besting it. The Swedes have not won a European Championship since the very first women's Euro back in 1984. Sundhage scored a goal in the first leg of that final and then made the winning penalty when it went to penalty kicks.
Sundhage has been the U.S. manager for the last five years and has been extremely successful. She advanced to the final in all three major tournaments she led the Americans into, winning the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, losing to Japan in the 2011 Women's World Cup final and winning goal at the 2012 Olympics.
It wasn't just the wins and gold medals that made Sundhage so successful either. She took over a U.S. women's program that was a mess after a disappointing 2007 Women's World Cup, many people were questioning whether the U.S. would be able to stay a world powerhouse and the team was under fire for playing unattractive soccer. In her four years, she has stabilized the program, established the U.S. as the clear-cut number one team in the world and has made the team fun again. She brought in a new style of play that emphasized the midfield and possession to make the team more attractive, all while bringing along a handful of new stars like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Cheney.
And while the team won on the field, Sundhage developed a cult following of her very own. Her free-spirit personality that included her wild goal celebrations, hilarious press conferences that would sometimes include her singing and playing air guitar on the field after wins endeared her to almost everybody who watched her.