U.S. Soccer: U-17 and U-20 women's coaches to be replaced

B.J. Snow is no longer U.S. U-17 girls national team coach and Michelle French  is out as U-20 women’s national team coach, but both will continue working for U.S. Soccer.

Both Snow and French were full-time coaches at their age groups for two cycles. Snow’s first team failed to qualify for the 2014 U-17 World Cup and his second team exited in the first round of the 2016 U-17 World Cup, at which it opened with a 6-1 win over Paraguay before losses to Ghana (2-1) and Japan (3-2).

USA U-17 Women's World Cup Record
Year U.S. Finish (Coach)
2008 Second place (Kazbek Tambi)
2010 did not qualify (Kazbek Tambi)
2012 first-round exit (Albertin Montoya)
2014 did not qualify (B.J. Snow)
2016 first-round exit (B.J. Snow)

French’s teams exited the 2014 U-20 World Cup with a quarterfinal shootout loss to North Korea and finished fourth at 2016 U-20 World Cup, at which the USA won two games of its six games and was outshot by five of its six opponents.

U.S. U-20 Women's World Cup History
Year U.S. Finish (Coach)
2002 Champion (Tracey Leone)
2004 Third place (Mark Krikorian)
2006 Fourth Place (Tim Schulz)
2008 Champion (Tony DiCicco)
2010 Quarterfinals (Jill Ellis)
2012 Champion (Steve Swanson)
2014 Quarterfinals (Michelle French)
2016 Fourth place (Michelle French)

U.S. Soccer has begun the hiring process to replace Snow and French, both of whom have been reassigned.

French, who had served as an assistant to Jill Ellis at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and 2016 Olympics, will now be a full-time national team assistant coach.

“Michelle was a huge asset for players and staff over the past two years, and now to have her solely focused on our team will be a tremendous benefit from a soccer standpoint,” Ellis said. “She brings a former national team players’ perspective, the experience of three World Cups, and contributes greatly to the positive synergy in our environment.”

Snow has been named head of U.S. Women’s National Team Talent Identification, a new federation position in which he will identify and track potential national team players in the NWSL, college ball, the U.S. youth national teams and overseas.

“B.J. is a great fit for this new position,” Ellis said. “It was a role I felt we needed to fill a gap in the evaluation of college-aged players. Ultimately, B.J.’s task is to find players who have the profile to become full women’s national team players. This position is particularly valuable right now with where we are in our cycle and our goal of continuing to deepen our pool.”

Snow is also serving as interim U.S. U-23 head coach until the position is filled. He will be coaching the U.S. U-23s at the La Manga tournament in Spain in March.

44 comments about "U.S. Soccer: U-17 and U-20 women's coaches to be replaced".
  1. Bob Ashpole, February 24, 2017 at 3:36 p.m.

    Before the comments get too excited, being replaced after 2 cycles should be expected.

  2. R2 Dad, February 24, 2017 at 3:43 p.m.

    No, no, no. If we're expecting that the USWNT not be run like a sorority anymore, we'd at least expect the US Soccer coaching pool to not be run like a country club. Up and out. The Peter principal should tell Ellis that coaches that fail need to leave. Was Klinsmann offered to coach the U20's after he was relieved of USMNT duties? Of course not, that would be absurd. So why is this OK? This is just a sop to the baying masses, who huddle around the guillotine. Your work is not done, US Soccer.

  3. Terry Lynch, February 24, 2017 at 9:59 p.m.

    Both these coaches failed in important leadership positions. Haven't seen Snow's teams but French really has no clue in picking and managing her teams. She did not develop good soccer. Now they get choice (and influential?) positions as assistants with national teams. The program is too in-bred. Have we no other worthy coaches in the program?

  4. frank schoon replied, February 25, 2017 at 1:31 p.m.

    Richard, your statement,"She did not develop good soccer" with all due respect is too naive. Don't expect these coaches to develop good soccer for if Klinsman can't do it what do you expect from these lower level coaches. This is nothing other than an exercise in switching chairs around..that is all,for it keeps everybody happy and it looks like your doing something to improve the situation. It is similar when you hire a new school superintendent in Wash. D.C...do you expect something better...remember you have to understand the quality of product your dealing with. This is why I always have to laugh over the big noise made over choosing a new superintendent...

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 25, 2017 at 5:54 p.m.

    What evidence is there that Klinsmann is anything but a "lower level" coach?

  6. E Velazquez, February 25, 2017 at 7:52 a.m.

    Both coaches have failed. They should go first to coach highschool or elementary school. Please do not let them can back to higher responsabilities. Perhaps later on. Why don't you consider coaches from Spain?

  7. Ric Fonseca, February 25, 2017 at 1:59 p.m.

    Really? Spanish coaches? I wonder if some of you know that for many years the US was the world "leader" in developing the USMNTs? From Dorrance to French, to Ellis, etc., the incredible growth of the national women's soccer programs is phenomenal, and yes while some of you might say that "it it wasn't for title IX...) yes, while that helped somewhat, I personally vividly remember starting the Cal St Northridge women's soccer club - which later grew to intercollegiate athletic status - in 1980, the number and quality of women coaches is also phenomenal, to wit the recent NSCAA Coaches convention in Los Angeles. So, Senor Velazquez, why "import" Euro coaches? Let US Soccer look at its very own yards and continue the development of women coaches. So kudos for Ellis for taking French, and all the best to Snow.

  8. frank schoon replied, February 25, 2017 at 2:23 p.m.

    Ric, in the days of Dorrance, it wouldn't matter who coached the women for they were light years ahead in soccer as compared to the European and Latino women teams. It wasn't because of great soccer we played but American women were more into sports than their counterparts, culturally speaking and it's still so much the case but it has gotten better..

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, February 25, 2017 at 2:43 p.m.

    College soccer in the USA used to be the only place for young women to develop. It is still the best amateur opportunity. Frank, what you say is true, but it doesn't detract from Ric's point that the US has some great coaches, just not enough. I don't think you credit Dorrance's ability to, not only coach, but more importantly identify and select talent. The proof of that is in the 90 national team players that played for him in college.

  10. frank schoon, February 25, 2017 at 2:57 p.m.

    Bob, what I consider to be a 'great coach' is not to be found here. Dorrance had the cream of crop coming to him at UNC for years. He didn't even had to recruit, just like Arena when he was at UVA . Good teams, successful teams from youth level on up are recruited not developed. The sad fact the coach is then known as a good coach. Having watched this years women's college soccer WVA, UNC,etc. I found Torrance's team pathetic..
    Then you watch WVA which recruited all the talent from Canada's national teams as well. That is not is not coaching, but taking advantage of good players.

  11. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 27, 2017 at 9:45 a.m.

    We know. The only one who was ever great was Cruyff and maybe Pep but only because he learned from Cruyff.

  12. R2 Dad, February 26, 2017 at 12:04 p.m.

    The problem with French is she is an unrepentant kickball coach. I've never seen one "converted", and she will negatively influence by continuing to employ her poor player selection bias ie big/beefy vs skilled/intelligent. Old dogs can't learn new tricks. This is specifically the problem with the national team coaches. We've got these dinosaurs that need purging if we're to move forward strategically. But we allow these crappy coaches to hang around, presumably because the head coach of the women's program likes her, or French has her back, or Ellis somehow feels obligated to employ French. I would love to know from US Soccer if they actually understand this, or their rational for these coaching decisions. It's all smoke and mirrors.

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, February 27, 2017 at 11 a.m.

    R2, others have made similar comments, but I don't think you are recognizing that the coach is dealing with amateur high school and college players who are typically not match fit in the context of a match with FIFA rules. What others see as a choice of bad tactics over good tactics, I see as a coach trying to make the field shorter to compensate for a general lack of fitness. French was not the only coach at the competition using those tactics.

  14. R2 Dad replied, February 27, 2017 at 1:59 p.m.

    Bob, you are rationalizing a poor strategy. Did it occur to you that our kids play year round and would be as fit as any other side at that age? That by refusing to play out of the back they are depriving their backs of touches under game conditions? I've also seen this rationalized with The Keeper Needs Goal Kicks to Develop, as if accurate kicking is more important than field play. It's all nonsense, retaining these coaches. Those coaches are now more suited to college ball. Most importantly, those U20 backs will never play for the USWNT. No one will trust them with the ball, whether it's Ellis or her successor.

  15. frank schoon replied, February 27, 2017 at 3:22 p.m.

    R2Dad, have you considered that not building up from the back or what you call playing out from the back is not a salient feature in American soccer and it is certainly not a feature stressed in the USSF program in teaching licensed coaches. We don't have the players to do that because it not "pushed' in youth soccer at all levels. It does require substantial knowledge to teach it. For example I just finished working on a paper on "how to build up an attack from the back" and found about 70 things that could go wrong in the build up. "The Keeper Needs Goal Kicks To Develop"..where do they come up with this crap..that is the first time I've ever it. I'm learning a lot from you guys comments about the ins and outs of how soccer is being taught to youth, this is a laugh a minute. There needs to be a complete overhaul in how US soccer taught.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, February 27, 2017 at 3:50 p.m.

    R2 match fit for FIFA rules means able to play for 120 minutes. Colleges and High Schools do not play FIFA rules. While I was in the Army I played against college teams. They routinely played 23 minutes shifts. We were 120-minute match fit and they weren't. We controlled the pace of the game so that they were winded within the first 15 minutes. To play against fit teams, these scholastic teams need to shorten the field to reduce the length of runs that they make. Playing out of the back and defending high allows the team to stay compact and is a preferred tactic, but for players who don't play that way at their clubs, it is unlikely that a national team coach will be able to use that approach successfully unless the opponents are not high pressing. Frank understands this, which explains why he is criticizing USSF's coaching education and the general state of development.

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, February 27, 2017 at 4:01 p.m.

    Frank, I agree with your assessment of the problems. The solution to the problem eludes me, other than to say we need better coaching and more playing opportunities. I think the best bet would be to trash the formal league and team structure altogether through age 12 and run academy style training to make the best use of resources and promote coaching development. It is the obvious solution but adults routinely oppose it. So my Plan B is to offer academy style training as supplemental training to willing club players.

  18. frank schoon replied, February 27, 2017 at 5:38 p.m.

    Bob , I just paid $10 to get the latin package in order for me to watch Mexico vs USA U20. I'm calling to see if I can get my money back. Watching this game is proof that the US is doing it all wrong. It is horrible!! 20min into the game I've yet to see 2 passes strung together. This is boom, smack, whack, pow. It reminds me of watching Batman in the 60s' seeing those words on the screen of the television. They should do this with soccer. All these kids, sorry I meant adults, actually believe playing soccer is done running 100mph with the ball. I'm recording it so I can watch it again...Watching this game proves that those who run soccer here have no vision as to what they want to do or what they want to establish when they have the ball and when not...there is no pattern...It looks like High School played by older guys...

  19. R2 Dad replied, February 27, 2017 at 10:17 p.m.

    "Colleges and High Schools do not play FIFA rules"...Bob, do we have any U20boys HS or college field players at all? They're most, if not all, professionals by now. For the girls, all they have is HS and college and the NCAA doesn't seem to want to update to FIFA so they're SOL. But is fitness the best criteria? Shouldn't we work on getting the most skilled more fit that just sh1tcanning the skilled players and going for big and beefy? And how can the "solution elude you"? It's plain as day, but if you're an NFL coach and only measure fitness, that's all you'll improve. I do recall that the Spaniards, who are not fitness beasts, won a world cup. So it's possible to win the entire thing without focusing primarily on fitness. Frank, just because USSF doesn't stress playing out of the back doesn't mean it's not important. Any moron coach can get licenses, despite the fact that you can get an A License and still play kickball. So we all know licenses mean very little if the coach is a dinosaur. And these two are jurassic.

  20. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 12:34 a.m.

    Frank I understand your point, but others might not realize that you are exaggerating. I re-watched the first 20 minutes. As often happens both teams could not get a rhythm started. The US was often stringing 2 passes together, but typically losing the ball on the 3rd or 4th pass. The US didn't get a rhythm going until the 19th minute when after stringing together 8 passes Mexico stopped the sequence by fouling. What the US was doing well was keeping superior numbers around the ball, which I would have thought you would compliment.

  21. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2017 at 10:12 a.m.

    Bob, I just watched another 20min of the second half and it is just awful soccer. I'm sorry to say. You mentioned many players around the ball,defensively, which is the easy part, any idiot can teach that for it is defensive and organization. The hard part is what do you do once you have the ball. That is where my attention is placed on for then we're talking soccer because the ball is involved.

  22. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2017 at 10:20 a.m.

    R2Dad, I never said that playing from the back is not important. If you read what I said, the USSF does not stress building up from the back and you can see that all levels. That is one of the points why I say that I'm not happy with how the USSF runs its soccer program.
    That you call these two coaches Dinosaurs is really proving my criticism of the USSF. They are following the USSF guides to training..they embody what the USSF stands for

  23. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 10:45 a.m.

    R2, match fitness is required for professional players, especially for starters.That is why it is not a topic of discussion. The professional status of the U20 men's team is irrelevant as the comment to which I replied was specific to Coach French and the women's program.

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 10:52 a.m.

    I appreciate your looking at some more of the match. I think I will have to watch some of the classic Dutch and AC Milan matches again to get grounded. It has been a while. Then maybe I will be able to better understand your dissatisfaction.

  25. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 28, 2017 at 4:29 p.m.

    Bob, I can help you understand his dissatisfaction. Frank decided a long time ago that no team ever, anywhere, will ever be as good as Holland circa 1974 and any time he watches any soccer game he has to tell himself how horrible it is compared to any game involving Cruyff.

  26. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 6:48 p.m.

    FPGN I think you misunderstand Frank. The Dutch are different. While I am passionate about playing soccer, the Dutch are fanatical about playing soccer. While I think soccer is like art, Dutch soccer is art to the Dutch. To me Cruyff is the greatest footballer of the 20th century. To the Dutch Cruyff is most influential person of the 20th century to Dutch culture.

  27. frank schoon replied, March 1, 2017 at 6:51 p.m.

    TOM, You're right. These kids first have to learn the game TECHNICALLY and that is done without coaches. That is how the greats learned to play.Look in the beginning it is all about "Experiencing" "doing" "trying different things" and in order to that you don't need coaches around because they are a controlling factor for they interfere and limit your freedom. At Ajax ,for example , they look at very technical players. But in my days as today by Ajax the kids who are very technical are "ballhogs", not team players for that is the nature of the animal . You know what happens here today, for example, if you're a ball hog, you either get yelled at, told to pass the ball, told to stop dribbling so much, by your licensed coach whose mentality see it as this is not the way play soccer..."it is a team game". So from the start your individuality in expressing your skill even though it is not functional to the team is very functional and important to individual especially in the beginning stages which I would allow up until the age of 12 or 13. This is why Cruyff states that you don't tell the kids to stop doing this or that but just guide him. A licensed coach doesn't think that way, for they don't realize that being a ballhog means your confident on the ball, not afraid of your opponent and you relish taking on your opponents. A ballhog is already a step ahead in their development as compared to other players because they are more confident. And a confident player is easier to teach . Don't you think Maradona, Pele ,Cruyff weren't ball hogs in their youth, and fortunately for them and those who played in the streets were not told by some coach to not do this or that. Of course later in your development structure is called for but first learn technique without all the tactical nonsense introduced by coaches that puts the brakes on the individuality of the player. This is why ,a large country like the US with so many kids playing for at least 50 years, still has failed to produced a major ,major TALENT or star the graces the soccer with his individualism. I always tell coaches don't buy books on soccer but biographies and just let the kids play and if possible bring in a couple kids older ones so they can learn from or watch..It is so easy but and I feel sorry for these parents who are paying through the nose at soccer academies...

  28. Sara P, February 26, 2017 at 12:17 p.m.

    “both will continue working for US Soccer” is code for we will promote them and hail them as pioneers and leaders. Nepotism kills. Nothing is going to change. These two coaches who unequivocally failed in every aspect of their respective cycles will still have a voice, still push their biases toward athletic prowess over all else, and still not have clue on how to identify, develop, and coach tactically and technically talented players. Ugh

  29. frank schoon replied, February 26, 2017 at 2:01 p.m.

    So everybody , let us take this a step further about these two coaches' weaknesses , even if they are national team coaches. Suppose they decided to join some soccer academy and work with and develop the youth of some soccer association. (YOU KNOW WHAT I'M GETTING AT) The PR will obviously be excellent to the parents who don't have a clue and who spend big bucks to have their kids trained and not knowing these two coaches' weaknesses and abilities other than they are licensed. This is just another reason why I highly question the abilities of the soccer academies in producing well rounded technically developed youth. I want to see just one youth come out of one of these soccer academies( or better named "Puppy Mills" for soccer players) after being there 8 years :One, to be able to dribble the ball with either foot with no problem wether on the run or in a small space with a man on ; Two, to be able to pass or shoot the ball with either foot, employing the INSTEP, INSIDE and OUTSIDE.
    If a youth is a capable of doing that than it is money well spent, for you won't see that of any MLS soccer player.
    Johan Cruyff stated that he was able to do this by the age of 14, and they didn't even have soccer academies, or licensed coaches in those days. But so far these academies have produced youth players like that...

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, February 27, 2017 at 11:12 a.m.

    Frank you know better than to credit or blame a national team coach for the skill level of the player pool unless you are commenting on the coach's talent identification ability. For all I know, these coaches may be fantastic with U-Littles. I would have said "we know" but maybe you have seen these coaches with U-Littles. I certainly hope you have some basis for your criticism of these two coaches.

  31. frank schoon replied, February 27, 2017 at 12:45 p.m.

    Bob, I'm not blaming these two individuals, specifically, on this player pool, BUT, they are part and parcel of the trainers at all levels who are trained and licensed by the same source the coaching school, that produces the product we see out on the field. And that is why I have a low opinion on how soccer is run here. So we need a licensed trained coach for the U-littles. That is where it is already going wrong. As far as I'm concerned a group like that, who are so undeveloped should be left to just play and have fun, a la street soccer. Just let them improve their motor skills with the ball playing.....

  32. frank schoon replied, February 27, 2017 at 12:55 p.m.

    Bob, get the book "Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff" at Amazon. I highly recommend it!!! The guys who wrote it are dutch and are good friends of Cruyff. I have other books by them.

  33. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 12:52 a.m.

    Frank, I have read at least a dozen books on Ajax and Dutch Soccer over the years. Then there are the videos and magazine articles. I don't think reading another book is going to give me any greater insight. I am not claiming to have a particularly good understanding, merely pointing out that I don't think reading more on the subject will make me understand it like someone who has actually played soccer at Ajax. I have played and coached my own vision of amateur Total Soccer, realizing that is limited by the abilities of the players (as well as my limitations). For U-Littles in the early 90's I had to reinvent the wheel, i.e., come up with a curriculum and season plan. Today there are still no details available as to how Ajax trains its young players, but I figure I cannot go wrong by teaching fundamentals.

  34. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.

    Bob, the book I mentioned is not about training at all but more about soccer insights,situations that perhaps during a game and how it was solved. I don't buy books or videos about training or coaching. As I stated before, you learn more "about" the game itself by reading either biographies, autobiographies of players or coaches. I guess perhaps your interests lie more in the "how to's". One thing I recommend is not to buy books or videos about Ajax and how they train their players. What you are doing is just fine getting the fundamentals down.

  35. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    Frank, thanks for the explanation. I liked your last recommendation and will give this one a read too.

  36. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    Bob, check my comments to you about the Mexican game, in the columnU-20 Qualifying: USA impresses in historic win over Mexico".

  37. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2017 at 11:24 a.m.

    Bob, I'm going to continue and to watch the Mexican match for I just briefly went through it. It is very difficult to keep focused on this match for like you stated it hurts the eyes.LOL. I would don't worry what these tapes and books do. It is the fundamentals and 'fun' . A cute exercise you can with the kids of all ages. I call it 'Trap City" .All you do is to split the team in two and separate them 20 yards apart( can be further if they are older). Use about 5 balls or so and all they have to do is kick the ball out of their hand, straight up towards the other group who try to trap it coming out of the air and award them a point if trap dead. So both sides keep kicking the ball back and forth in air. The team that reaches 5 points ,win.

  38. Chris J, February 26, 2017 at 12:38 p.m.

    Wait, let me get this straight. The guy who had two full cycles with complete control over identification and development of talent, chose pure athleticism over talent more often than not, and promoted the same-old warrior-girl style of play that looks great against hapless CONCACAF squads but didn’t have a clue how to deal with the likes of Ghana and Japan, now gets promoted to evaluate talent? Must be nice to part of the club and never have to be accountable for delivering results.

  39. Rafi Benlian, February 28, 2017 at 3:11 a.m.

    Soccer in all levels and genders will not succeed in the US,unless it governing body cuts all ties with all sport drinks co's. Their consumption has disastrous consequences in all sports where the eye-limb coordination is essential. 70% of all goal against US National teams are scored 5-6 min. after the last consumption of those drinks.

  40. aaron dutch, February 28, 2017 at 9:55 a.m.

    This is sad our complete domination which was based on the US having a lead in dedicated approach vs. world competition. Now the world is applying full time development with best practices in men's football (Dutch, Futsal, coach development, pro leagues etc..) with this the rest of the world (ROW) is coming with a scary quality. We can still crush CONCACAF for the next 20 years but we are now facing a new national team from each region that is popping up like a start up in Silicon Valley and those 3-4 new teams every cycle or 2 is allowing the rest of the world to compete at such a high level vs. the US teams. This is happening at U-15 to U-20. Our HIgh School, Super Club & College system is just not as good as those other national teams. Also, the women's pro leagues are popping up in Europe like new start-ups and within 5-10 years they will be a huge force in the development. We are on the verge of getting lapped big time.

  41. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 11 a.m.

    Aaron, the gap was not in coaching practices but rather a cultural gap. Germany and Norway had similar sports cultures to the US, so their women's teams were competitively equivalent to the USA. Even coaching girls in the US I had to overcome the anti-competitive socialization that girls are subjected to from a young age. Literally I had to teach them that competition in sports is socially acceptable.

  42. William Thomas, February 28, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    Just look at the U-17 and U-20 games against Japan and Korea. It starts further back than French or Snow. It's too late to expect our women's younger teams to play at the same level as our Asian competitors. Best to check out the player preparation by Japan and Korea. Can you imagine the quality of our game if we had their skill set.

  43. aaron dutch, February 28, 2017 at 12:59 p.m.

    Bob, great point but I would say if we had a better academy approach we would fair far better.

  44. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 6:58 p.m.

    I suspect nobody would disagree with that. I certainly don't. Adults, however, want to recreate the EPL even with toddlers.

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