NEW YORK: Tom Sermanni has been sacked as coach of the United States’ women’s national team just a year ahead of the Women’s World Cup.

Jilll Ellis, US Soccer’s director of development, has taken over as interim coach at least for Thursday’s against China in San Diego.

Sermanni’s exit was announced shortly after goals from Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe provided a 2-1 victory over the Chinese to maintain an 81-game unbeaten home record.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said: “We want to thank Tom for his service over the past year and half, but we felt that we needed to go in a different direction at this time.

“We will begin looking for a new coach immediately to guide our women’s national team toward qualifying for the World Cup.”

Sermanni, who was reported to be shocked by the decision, issued a formal statement saying: “I’m disappointed that things didn’t work out, but I’d like to thank U.S. Soccer for the opportunity to have coached this team and also the staff and players for all their hard work.”

The US were unbeaten last year under Sermanni, winning 13 matches and drawing three. But they had a disappointing Algarve Cup in March, failingto win any of their three matches – losing two and drawing one.

A defeat to Sweden – led by ex-US coach Pia Sundhage – ended a 43-game unbeaten run.

Sermanni had succeeded Sundhage in October 2012.