DiCicco took over the U.S. team at the beginning of 1995 and guided the USA to a third place finish at the 1995 Women's World Cup in Sweden. DiCicco revamped the team's style, and along with a core of veteran players, regrouped and refocused to win the 1996 Olympic gold medal and the 1999 Women's World Cup, becoming the first coach and first team to hold both titles concurrently. After making his final decision yesterday, DiCicco spoke to his players and staff via conference call this morning.
"I can't think of anyone more deserving of the attention and praise brought on by the U.S. Women's National Team's success and popularity than Tony DiCicco," said U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia. "He has won every trophy in sight and done it with grace and style. He has been an integral part of the team's success since our first World Cup championship in 1991, and he has met every challenge head on. We respect, understand and admire his desire to share his life with his family."
DiCicco steps aside to spend more time with his wife and four sons, ages 8, 12, 14, and 17, who supported him through a schedule which saw him on the road for as many as 250 days a year. DiCicco began his career with the Women's National Team in 1990 as the goalkeeper coach, and was an assistant on the 1991 Women's World Cup championship team, before taking over the head job from Anson Dorrance in 1995. He continued to train the national team goalkeepers, helping make Briana Scurry into an international star. DiCicco was also the main force behind organizing and strengthening the youth Women's National Team programs, enabling the Under-16, Under-18 and Under-21 teams to compete with great success and continue to develop players for the future. DiCicco helped institute the two-year old U-18 program.
"The main reason I'm stepping down is that it's more important for me to be a world class husband and father than a world class coach," said DiCicco. "When I looked at the generous financial opportunities available to me next year, I didn't see how they could possibly enrich my life more than spending time with my wife and boys. The things I'll miss the most are the players, what they taught me, what we learned together and how they made me feel. And how much fun it was to go after something great together."
DiCicco finishes with a 103-8-8 record in full international matches and a winning percentage of .899, both U.S. records. DiCicco's teams won five straight U.S. Women's Cups, and during his tenure, he saw Mia Hamm break the international record for goals scored and Kristine Lilly break the record for most appearances.
"U.S. Soccer gave me a tremendous privilege and opportunity when they hired me for the head coaching position," added DiCicco. "When I took over the team, I might not have been the first choice in many people's minds. But Alan Rothenberg and Hank Steinbrecher thought I would develop into a coach that would win for them, and I did. I sincerely appreciate the chance U.S. Soccer gave me. I think together we brought women's soccer to a whole new level both in America and globally."
"Tony DiCicco has been a model of professionalism as the head coach of our U.S. Women's National Team," said Hank Steinbrecher, Secretary General of U.S. Soccer. "He will be sorely missed. I honestly believe he was the Phil Jackson of soccer coaches, bringing a sense of unity and team to a squad of veteran players who have been together for over a decade. This was clearly a decision from the heart and we respect that more than any other. He has said all along that spending time with his real first team, his family, was critical to him coming out of the Women's World Cup."
DiCicco steps down after accomplishing perhaps his greatest triumph, leading the USA through the preparation and competition of the Women's World Cup that included a sometimes overwhelming amount of pressure and distractions on the home team. The tournament concluded with the largest crowd ever to watch a women's sporting event as the USA won the Women's World Cup in front of a sell-out of 90,185 fans at the Rose Bowl. The television audience of 40 million made it the highest rated soccer match ever in the United States.
"I want to thank my staff and especially my assistant coaches, Lauren Gregg and Jay Hoffman, and mental skills coach Colleen Hacker," added DiCicco. "Their loyalty, expertise and uncanny ability to fill in the gaps when I needed it will always be tremendously appreciated."
"Tony is no doubt one of the best women's soccer coaches in the world," said Carla Overbeck, who served as team captain during the majority of DiCicco's tenure. "Being a mother myself, I totally empathize with him wanting to be at home with his family. We will always cherish the successes we achieved, and we will miss him tremendously as a coach and friend."
DiCicco's last year was his finest in terms of statistics. The USA went 25-2-2, setting a record for wins in a calendar year, and scored 111 goals, the second highest yearly total in the history of the program.
"Obviously, it's a sad day for the team because we all have tremendous respect for Tony as a coach, a person and friend," said Julie Foudy, who co-captained the team with Overbeck. "But we understand his commitment to his family and his desire to spend more time with his wife and sons. He's put in a lot of years with us, and spent many hours away from his family for us, and sacrificed a lot for the team. We'll always be proud of the things we accomplished together. It will very difficult to replace him, but we look forward to working with a new coach in our goal to win the Olympics."
"For U.S. Soccer, the focus now turns to finding a replacement," added Steinbrecher. "Within the coming weeks we will begin to identify candidates and then begin the interview process, but no timetable has been set at this time."
U.S. Soccer is in discussions with DiCicco to continue with the Women's National Team's programs in an advisory capacity. DiCicco will also be pursuing a range of new business interests. He will also continue to conduct clinics and speaking engagements as well as run his highly successful summer soccer camp business.
|Tony DiCicco's Career Coaching Record with U.S. Women's National Team|
|1995||23||19||2||2||82||16||Wins first match 7-0 over Denmark in Orlando, Fla.|
|1996||24||21||1||2||80||17||Defeats China, 2-1, for gold medal in Athens, Ga.|
|1997||18||16||2||0||67||13||Then-record 17,358 view win over England in San Jose, Calif.|
|1998||25||22||1||2||89||12||USA wins first Goodwill Games gold medal in Long Island, N.Y.|
|1999||29||25||2||2||111||15||Women's World Cup triumph captures America's hearts|