Tony DiCicco, who coached the United States to the championship of this summer's Women's World Cup, said yesterday he will return to coach the national team at least through the 2000 Olympics, provided that a few details are worked out with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The winningest coach in USSF history, DiCicco said he will meet with USSF officials Wednesday in Chicago to discuss matters related to the U.S. women's team.
DiCicco, who has compiled a 101-8-8 record during his five-year tenure with the U.S. team, said his contract discussions have been handled by a marketing representative, whom he identified as a friend but declined to name.
"We're in the process of moving the ball forward," DiCicco, 51, said. "I don't think we have to move it very far to get [a deal] accomplished."
DiCicco said he hoped, with the cooperation of the USSF, to minimize the strain placed on his family--he is married and has four sons--by another year of heavy travel. After the Women's World Cup ended in July, DiCicco has cited family hardship as the only reason he would not return as U.S. team coach. Beginning in April, the team will enter a five-month residency camp in preparation for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, which begin Sept. 15.
DiCicco said there were certain unresolved financial issues with the USSF, but that they were unlikely to be obstacles to his return. He said he wouldn't rule out a long-term contract as national team coach, or a one-year deal with an option, but that discussions hadn't gone that far.
USSF Secretary General Hank Steinbrecher could not be reached to comment. Members of the 1999 Women's World Cup championship team have urged DiCicco to rejoin the team for another year. Many of the team's longtime stars, from Mia Hamm to Michelle Akers to Kristine Lilly, are expected to retire from the national team after the Olympics. Under DiCicco, the U.S. women's national team won the first gold medal offered in women's soccer at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
"I did get some votes of confidence from the players," DiCicco said. "They basically said, 'Let's all come together for one more year and win another one,' which was encouraging. I'd love to do it. Hopefully it will happen--right down to winning again."
With his thick mustache and occasionally fiery sideline demeanor, DiCicco has been a distinctive and integral member of a close-knit team that has operated much like a large family. DiCicco's players have jokingly said that he has four sons at home and 20 daughters on the road.
When DiCicco took over the team in August 1994, it seemed unlikely he could match the success of coaching legend Anson Dorrance, the University of North Carolina head coach who led the U.S. team to the inaugural Women's World Cup title in 1991.
In May 1998, DiCicco surpassed Dorrance as the USSF's all-time win leader. Players say Dorrance was more authoritative and less approachable than DiCicco, who claims to adhere to a philosophy of coaching his players like men but treating them like women.
Besides the 1999 Women's World Cup title and the 1996 Olympic gold medal finish, DiCicco also led the team to a third-place finish in the 1995 Women's World Cup and first-place finishes in the five U.S. Women's Cups.