COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — On her final victory lap, Pia Sundhage hopped and high-stepped her way around the field.
As the U.S. women’s national soccer team coach soaked in the cheers from the capacity crowd, her team began serenading her by belting out, “You are my Sunshine.”
A fitting tribute since Sundhage has had the squad in perfect harmony for five years.
A fitting way to go out, too.
Abby Wambach broke a tie early in the second half and Alex Morgan added two goals and two assists, helping the U.S. beat Australia 6-2 Wednesday night in an international friendly that was Sundhage’s farewell game.
Sundhage announced earlier this month she was stepping away after leading the squad to back-to-back Olympic gold medals. She will return home to coach the Swedish national team.
Heather O'Reilly, Shannon Boxx and Sydney Leroux also scored for the Americans, who move to 21-0-2 against Australia.
The Australians went ahead 2-1 late in the first half on Sarah Walsh’s low shot past Hope Solo. A few minutes later, Morgan tied up the game.
And with that, the team was on its way to sending Sundhage out in winning fashion.
Sundhage leaves after a highly successful stint, going 91-6-10 in her time on the bench. Besides two Olympic gold medals, she also led the Americans to their first World Cup final in 12 years.
“She’s built this game, helped elevate the game to a new level,” said Solo, whose team won its 14th straight match. “So, there’s not too much to be sad about. Of course, we’re heartbroken that she’s gone. But she’s fulfilling her dreams and we’re going to fulfill ours.”
As a goodbye present, the team recently gave Sundhage a guitar that was signed by all the players in — surprise, surprise — the color of gold.
“It’s the best present I ever got,” she said.