Sundhage steps in for US

Former Sweden star Pia Sundhage became the first non-American to be named coach of the USA women's national team on Tuesday, taking over from the recently sacked Greg Ryan.

Coming off a stint as assistant to China coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors at the FIFA Women's World Cup in September, Sundhage's first order of business will be to prepare the USA Women - who went out to Brazil in the semi-finals of China 2007 - for the Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing next year.

First up toward that task for the new coach, who is trusted with returning the USA to their lost status as pre-eminent world powers, will be the Four Nations invitational tournament in China in January. The gig will not be Sundhage's first in the US, as she was the head coach of WUSA's Boston Breakers in 2003.

"She (Pia) is a highly accomplished player and coach with the vision to guide our women's national team to the next level," remarked Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation. "She brings a fresh perspective and a tremendous amount of experience to the job. She knows the international game and has a great track record of not only winning, but getting the most out of players and teams."

A one-time member of FIFA's Technical Study Group, Sundhage, 47, is a well-respected figure in and out of her native Sweden with a strong tactical understanding of the game. In her playing days she amassed no less than 146 caps in which she scored 71 goals. She also took part in the first two FIFA Women's World Cups and the 1996 Olympic Games.

The sixth US coach in the team's history, Sundhage becomes only the second women to hold the position. The first was former US international April Heinrichs.