- U.S. National Team: U.S. Women
- Position: Head Coach
- Date Of Birth: Feb. 13, 1960
- Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Just more than nine months after being named head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Pia Sundhage led the U.S. to a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, rebounding from an opening match loss to defeat Brazil in the championship game.
In 2008, she led the USA to championships in five different tournaments in four foreign countries, winning the Four Nations Tournament in January in China, the Algarve Cup in March in Portugal, the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in April in Mexico, the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea in June and the Olympics in August in China. Under Sundhage, the team compiled a record of 33-1-2, setting records for most wins and best winning percentage in a calendar year.
In 2009, the U.S. team’s schedule was reduced due to the start of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), but Sundhage still led the USA to a 7-0-1 record while allowing just one goal. Her two-year record with the U.S. team heading into 2010 stands at 40-1-3, a winning percentage of .943, the best for any coach in U.S. history.
Sundhage was named the sixth head coach in team history on Nov. 13, 2007, bringing to the job an extensive international resume as both a player and coach. One of the most respected coaches in the women’s game and widely regarded as one of the world’s all-time greatest female players during her international career that spanned 22 years, Sundhage is the first foreign coach and the second woman to take the helm of the U.S. team.
Sundhage coached in the WUSA during all three years of its existence, serving as the top assistant for the Philadelphia Charge during the 2001 and 2002 seasons before taking over as head coach of the Boston Breakers in 2003. She led the Breakers, a team that had not made the playoffs in its first two seasons, to the regular season championship and its first playoff berth. In 2004, Sundhage served as a scout for the USA during the Olympics. Prior to joining U.S. Soccer, she served as an assistant coach of the Chinese Women’s National Team during the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China.
Sundhage started her coaching career while still playing, serving as player-coach for the Hammarby club from 1992-1994. She also coached Sweden’s Youth National Teams for 11 years from 1990-2001, coaching the U-16s, the U-19s and U-21s. After her retirement from the international game in 1996, she became head coach of the Sweden Under-19 Women’s National Team, leading the team to one gold medal and two bronze medals at the European Championships. She served as a scout for Sweden during the 1997 European Championships, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. Sundhage has also worked for FIFA on its Technical Study Group staff for the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Thailand.
A legendary player in Sweden, she played for her country in the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups, and 1996 Olympics. She scored four goals for Sweden at the 1991 Women’s World Cup, helping the Swedes to a third-place finish. She scored one goal in the 1995 Women’s World Cup (against Germany) and played every minute of all three matches at the Atlanta Olympics.
She captained the national team for many years, playing 146 international games while scoring 71 goals, for years a record she held with another Swedish legend, Lena Videkull, until passed by forward Hanna Ljungberg in 2008. Sundhage debuted for Sweden at age 15 in 1975 against England and ended her 22-year international career at the 1996 Olympics in a win against Denmark. She led Sweden to the first European Women’s Championship in 1984, scoring the winning penalty kick against England to give her country its only European title. She also helped Sweden earn two silver medal finishes and one bronze at the European Women’s Championships.
During her international career, Sundhage played against the United States numerous times, including matches at the 1991 Women’s World Cup and in the 1996 Olympics. In 2000, she finished sixth in the voting for FIFA Women’s Player of the Century.
Already a popular and well-known sports figure in Sweden before she took the job with the U.S. WNT, after guiding the USA to the gold medal in Beijing, Sundhage received numerous awards and accolades in her home country and made appearances on several TV shows. Her Olympic triumph even promoted heated debate and analysis among columnists and fans in Sweden about whether she should be named to coach the Swedish Men’s National Team, which had just failed to qualify for the World Cup. She even finished high in a fan poll about who should be the next coach, and the idea of her coaching the men with famed Swedish coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was even bandied about in the Swedish media.
THE PIA FILE
- Sweden WNT (1974-1996)
- Falköping KIK (1978)
- Jitex BK (1979-81, 1984, 1985, 1987-89)
- Östers IF (1982-83)
- Stattena (1985)
- Lazio (1985)
- Hammarby (1986, 1990-96)
European Women’s Championship
- 1984 (Gold)
- 1987 (Silver)
- 1989 (Bronze)
- 1991 (Quarterfinals)
- 1993 (Quarterfinals)
- 1995 (Silver)
FIFA Women’s World Cup
- 1991 (Bronze)
- 1995 (Quarterfinals)
Swedish Club Champion
1979 • 1981 • 1984 • 1989
Swedish Club Cup Winner
1981 • 1984 • 1994 • 1995
- Sweden Youth National (head coach U-16/U-19/U-21, 1990-2001)
- Hammarby (player/coach, 1992-1994)
- Vallentuna (assistant coach, 1998-1999)
- AIK (assistant coach, 2000)
- Philadelphia Charge (assistant coach, 2001-2002)
- Boston Breakers (head coach, 2003)
- Kolbotn (head coach, 2004)
- KIF Örebro (head coach, 2005-2006)
- China PR Women’s National Team (assistant coach, 2007)
- U.S. Women’s National Team (head coach, 2008-present)
- 2008 (Gold)
OTHER TOURNAMENTS WON
- WUSA Regular Season (2003)
- Four Nations (2008)
- Algarve Cup (2008)
- CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying (2008)
- Peace Queen Cup (2008)