They gave her quite a few memories along the way, too.
Sundhage’s most poignant? That’s easy: When the team roared back against Brazil in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup. Wambach tied it at 2 with a magnificent, leaping header in the 122nd minute. The U.S. eventually captured the match 5-3 on penalty kicks.
“Better than a movie,” Sundhage said. “That is the moment of my soccer life.”
This final performance wasn’t too bad, either.
After the match was over, Sundhage hugged everyone in sight. She also began signing through tears — Tina Turner’s classic, “Simply the best.”
It was a day of singing for Sundhage, who performed tunes in the pregame meeting as well. The song list included: “The Times They Are A-Changin” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Sundhage came in singing and left the same way.
“When a coach comes in and you don’t know who they are and they start singing songs to you, it’s like, ‘What is this going to be? How is this going to go?’” Wambach said. “Thankfully, it went well. It turned out really well for us.”
Over Sundhage’s career, she has made a habit of jotting down notes filled with emotions and tactics. Lately, she’s been looking back at those details, to remember how special these players were to her.
The feeling was mutual.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd is convinced she might not be wearing the red, white and blue if not for Sundhage, who changed the way the team played after taking over. Sundhage emphasized midfield play even more, making Lloyd a vital component.
“When Pia first came on, she saw me play in previous tournaments and said to me, ‘I really like how you play and really believe in you,’” Lloyd recounted. “From then on, she preached playing in the midfield, playing possession. That’s right up my alley.”
Now, the big question is who replaces Sundhage?View Entire Story
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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