..and now for something completely different.

Before i get back to fireblogging something was mentioned in comments today (honestly, I should just let you guys do all the work and I’ll just sit back and collect my SorosBucks) about the US Womens Soccer team that I would be remiss in not mentioning (see here and here if you feel like getting caught up). Ready? Okay.

Greg Ryan had always seemed curiously bulletproof, generally dodging the larger munitions in terms of media scrutiny. His highly favored team looked plodding in the Women’s World Cup, but Ryan seemed to get a pass as all heads swiveled toward the Hope Solo fiasco.

When the same thing happens to the U.S. men’s team — such as at the last two World Cups in Europe — the coach typically has been vilified in newspapers, on TV and in the combustible blogs.

Well, while Ryan escaped the media nicks and cuts, he couldn’t escape the surgical slice from U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who has treated Ryan the same way he treated former U.S. men’s coach Bruce Arena last year:

Gulati has declined to renew Ryan’s contract as women’s national team coach.

Ryan’s deal ends on Dec. 31, 2007. His last match was Sunday, a disappointing 1-1 draw with a nation (Mexico) that has mostly been a punching bag for the powerful U.S. women’s program.

In evaluating Ryan, Gulati said that U.S. Soccer weighed everything over the past two years, but gave additional weight to the preparation for and performance in the Women’s World Cup. The move reflects U.S. Soccer’s larger goal of keeping pace across the board, in men’s and women’s programs, youth and professional.

“It’s clear that a number of [women’s] teams around the world are playing at a much higher level than they had been previously,” Gulati said.

Say what you will about how Ryan handled the Hope Solo response, but it really comes down to two factors:

He didn’t bring a team to the World Cup ready and prepared to play their own game and they looked it.

Besides the obvious FUBAR decision to change goalies, he did a poor job of substituting late in the game when the team was down 2-0.

While some thought the Hope Solo benching and then expulsion from the team gave him cover, instead it just put a big spotlight on his poor decision making. And, as anyone who follows soccer will tell you, from coaching to playing, the difference between a win and a loss can come down to one bad decision in the course of ninety minutes. Greg Ryan made far too many. Here’s hoping that the new coach will come in and shake things up from personnel to attitude.

One last soccer note, the L&T Casey’s team has yet to win a match this season, but we like to say that they have one less win than Notre Dame’s football team. Kind of glass half full…glass totally empty.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....