US Women's World Cup champion coach DiCicco dies


Chicago (AFP)

Tony DiCicco, who coached the US women's football squad to the 1996 Olympic and 1999 Women's World Cup crowns, has died, the US Soccer Federation announced Tuesday. He was 68.

DiCicco, who died Monday night of undisclosed reasons, was the most successful coach in US women's national team history, going 103-8-8 from 1994-1999.

"We mourn the loss of one of the most influential coaches in US Soccer history," US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. "Tony's passion for the game as a coach, administrator and broadcaster was always evident and his relationships with everyone in the soccer community distinguished him as a compassionate and much-loved man.

"US Soccer will forever be thankful to Tony for his vast contributions to the game."

DiCicco, a goalkeeper coach under Anson Dorrance on the first US Women's World Cup winners in 1991, replaced Dorrance as coach and guided the Americans to a third-place finish at the 1995 Women's World Cup in Sweden.

The US women then won Olympic gold on home soil in Atlanta in 1996 and three years later masterminded the squad that won the Women's World Cup final in a penalty kick shootout over China before 90,125 spectators at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California -- still the largest crowd ever to watch a women's sporting event.

DiCicco, inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012, also guided the 2008 US Under-20 Women's World Cup championship team.

"Tony is one of the true legends of women's soccer in the United States," US Soccer chief executive Dan Flynn said. "The impact he had at the beginning of our women's national team program will be felt for generations to come."

DiCicco was a commissioner for the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), the inaugural US women's pro league that lasted from 2001-2003, and coached the Boston Breakers from 2009-2011 in the follow-up Women's Professional Soccer league.

"A pioneer in the world of soccer, Tony will be remembered for his immense passion, his dedication to the game and his life pursuit to inspire players and people," said National Women's Soccer League operations director Amanda Duffy. "No one will forget the impact he has had on so many people's lives."