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Former Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni not rushing to land next job

Orlando coach Tom Sermanni walks off the field as fans behind him head into the stadium after a lightning delay stopped play during the Chicago Red Stars at Orlando Pride NWSL soccer game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, August 25, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Tom Sermanni isn’t sure what’s next for him.

The Orlando Pride coach agreed to part ways with the club after a Friday meeting with Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão and GM Niki Budalic. Sermanni said for the meeting, he came up with a presentation that summarized the Pride’s season.

After the meeting was over, both sides agreed it was in the best interests of everyone involved to “look at somebody fresh” to take over, Sermanni said. The club on Friday announced Sermanni wouldn’t be back next season, and he ended his tenure with the Pride with a 25-30-13 record.

After a rough season, Sermanni told Pro Soccer USA he’s not chasing a new opportunity. The Pride came into the season with high expectations but ended the year 8-10-6 (30 points) and lost 1-0 in their season finale to give previously-winless Sky Blue FC its first win of the season.

“I’m kind of like, I’m not sort of rushing in and kind of anxious to quickly get back and do something,” Sermanni said.

“I’m just going to take a little bit of time, I think. Just relax and then see what, if anything is out there. The reality of this wonderful job we’re in is that you never quite know what is around the corner, or if, in fact, anything is around the corner. I’ll just wait and see what happens and go from there.

“Obviously, my wife’s in Australia. Depending on what happens heading back there, it looks like an obvious sort of scenario. As I say, I’m just chilling out and waiting to see what might be there. If it’s something that appeals to me, then I’ll look at it. If there’s nothing that appeals to me, I will quite happily ride off into the sunset of retirement.”

Sermanni, 64, said he’ll coach again if the right job comes along.

“I’ve reached the stage where I’m not chasing anything,” he said.

“If I take on a job, I want to do it as well as I can. I don’t have a list where I’m saying, ‘I’d like to coach here or coach here’ or whatever it is. When you’re a younger coach and you’re going through those stages of your career, you’ve always got an ambition to look for a bigger job or a better job. I’m not at the stage now. If something comes up, it would be something that would appeal to me and I’d want to do.”

For now, Sermanni wants to get some perspective on the year.

“I think it’s a chance to step back and spend some time away from the pressures of the game,” he said. “I think I’ve definitely felt that probably more so as this season’s gone on than I have at other times in my career. I think it’s been a tough season in the sense that we haven’t quite had things going the way we’d hoped to get them going. That adds extra pressure and extra frustration. It adds extra stress to the job.

“When you have those things, at the end of it, you’re kind of mentally and physically a little bit exhausted. You sort of have to take time and look at things in perspective. To look back and say – it’s like being a Monday Morning Quarterback – should we have done something different than what we did or was it just a whole set of circumstances that came up with the outcome we had this year?”

The Pride, who finished in seventh place in the NWSL, enter the offseason without a coach for the first time in team history. Sermanni – who throughout this season said he couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact reason for his team’s struggles – said the Pride aren’t far from reaching the postseason again.

Sermanni added Orlando was in position to earn playoff bid until its six-game slide to end the season hit. The Pride went winless during the final six games and lost four in a row. Still, the Pride weren’t eliminated from playoff contention until they lost to the Chicago Red Stars in their second-to-last match of the season.

“I think there needs to be a couple of changes,” Sermanni said. “I don’t think there needs to be major changes. I don’t think there has to be a major overhaul of this team. I think it just takes a couple of new players in key positions, and then, the second thing it takes is a couple of players just getting the spark back in their performances.

“If they get on a roll, they’re a really dangerous team. It’s just a question of just being able to do that and hopefully that will happen next year. I don’t think it’s that far away.”

Sermanni said he was grateful for the support of the Pride’s fans. Orlando’s NWSL side struggled through its inaugural season in 2016, made the playoffs in 2017 after going on an unbeaten run over the final eight games of the season, then struggled through the end of the 2018 campaign.

“From a personal perspective, I really appreciated how they responded, reacted and kept supporting me, even when our team was not winning and maybe not playing as well as we’d hoped,” he said. “It says a great deal about their loyalty, the way that I’ve been treated with them and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

“It’s a very rare occurrence that you get that. I’m thankful and humbled by how well they’ve continued to support me and support the team. As a head coach, it’s my responsibility to get results and we haven’t done that as well this year as we’d hoped.”

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