The U.S. Soccer Federation has asked Tony DiCicco to coach the U.S. women's national team through the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but DiCicco said yesterday he is undecided because of family issues.
DiCicco, who coached the team to the 1996 Olympic gold medal, the 1999 Women's World Cup championship and, this past week, the U.S. Women's Cup title, said he will decide by early November, thereby allowing the USSF plenty of time to select a new coach should he decline.
DiCicco, 51, has been the U.S. women's national team coach since 1994. He was an assistant under Anson Dorrance in 1991.
DiCicco said he has been frustrated by the time away from his family his job requires. He and his wife, Diane, have four sons ranging in age from 8 to 17.
"It's a very, very difficult decision because I love coaching this team and I love the challenge," DiCicco said. "But . . . I feel I'm not being the father or husband I should be. I'm kind of right in that guilt place between two worlds. I know the time I've lost with my children, I'm not getting that back.
"I guess at this point, you can figure out that I would prefer to be a world-champion father than a world-champion coach."
During meetings Sept. 26 in Denver, the site of a U.S. victory over South Korea in a friendly match, USSF President Bob Contiguglia invited DiCicco to coach the team in 2000.
DiCicco said a contract was discussed only in general terms, and that he would take up the issues more comprehensively should he decide to return to the program.
"I saw him labor through last year--he agonized over the time lost with his family, especially his sons," said longtime U.S. player Michelle Akers. "His love is with his family. He's just going to have to wrestle with that issue and decide with Diane. On the one hand, it's only one more year. On the other hand, it's one more year."
Akers, who has been rehabilitating a sore knee and injured shoulder, said she plans to rejoin the national team next year regardless of DiCicco's plans. The other 19 members of the World Cup team have expressed similar intentions.
Should DiCicco bow out, Lauren Gregg--the U.S. team assistant who formerly coached at the University of Virginia--would be a leading candidate to replace him.
The U.S. players are planning to enter a five-month residency camp in April to prepare for the Olympic Games, Sept. 15 to Oct. 1.
DiCicco said he would like to expand the camp to two full teams--36 players total--in order to train a veteran team for the Olympics while also preparing younger players for high-level competition--namely, the 2003 World Cup.