US women's national team head coach Pia Sundhage has decided to return home to pursue opportunities in Sweden, US Soccer announced in a press release on Saturday.
"It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them," said Sundhage in the release. "I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better. Before I took this job, I always admired the spirit and character of the US team, but to experience that first-hand on the training field and from the bench as their coach was truly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Although it is time to move on, I'd like to thank US Soccer for this wonderful opportunity and I wish this team and the players all the best in the future."
Sundhage, who took over in 2007, led her team to two Olympic gold medals and the 2011 World Cup final.
EDIT: Reports on Twitter suggest that Sundhage has signed on to coach the Sweden women's national team.
As news broke, tributes to the US coach poured in over social media from players, fans and media:
Thank you Pia for the wonderful job you did as USWNT coach. All the best to you.— Mia Hamm (@MiaHamm) September 1, 2012
Pia has allowed us 2 be individuals,while showing us what aTEAMreally is.She led us to 2 Golds,1 silver AND we played beautiful football!— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) September 1, 2012
Thanks to Pia Sundhage and the role she played in helping grow women's soccer in the USA.— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) September 1, 2012
In her 5 years w— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) September 1, 2012
#uswnt, Pia only lost 6 games, won 2 Olympic Gold Medals, and was WWC runner up. Job well done I'd say.
More reason why Pia Sundhage is just fun to chat with: 'What do you hope to get out of the victory tour?' Answer: "Joy."— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) August 31, 2012
I want to thank Pia for everything she has done for our team n for me..she has believed in me from day 1 and allowed me to grow as a player.— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) September 1, 2012
Our— Leslie Osborne (@LeslieOsborne12) September 1, 2012
@ussoccer coach Pia Sundhage has decided 2 pursue opportunity in Sweden. 2 Olympic Gold Medals & 1 WWC silver. Great results since '08!
Thank you and good luck to Pia Sundhage.— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) September 1, 2012
Leaving tactics and player selection aside, it's impossible to argue with Pia Sundhage's record of success. And it was immense.— Jenna Pel (@jenna_awk) September 1, 2012
Qualification for the 2015 Women's World Cup, which is to be held in Canada, is set to take place in 2014. The US women will kick off their post-Olympics victory tour on Saturday afternoon in Rochester, N.Y., against Costa Rica (2:30 pm ET; NBC). They'll also play Australia twice in September, and have a pair of games against Germany scheduled for October. Sundhage is expect to stay on until the end of September, but the timetable after that is not clear.
USSF president Sunil Gulati said the search for Sundhage's successor will begin immediately.