Heinrichs' tenure included the launch of the Girls Development Academy in 2017 and an expansion of the women's youth national team program, with the hiring of full-time youth national team coaches.
The USA, however, managed only one youth World Cup title since 2011, the 2012 U-20 Women's World Cup title under Coach Steve Swanson. The latest U-20 cycle ended with a first-round exit, at the 2018 U-20 World Cup under Coach Jitka Klimkova, after the USA finished second to Mexico in the Concacaf Championship.
The U.S. U-17 girls also failed to advance in their group at the latest World Cup, in 2016 under Coach B.J. Snow. They failed to qualify in 2014 and exited in the first round in 2012.
Heinrichs clashed with U.S. college coaches when members of the U.S. 2016 World Cup U-20 roster were required by U.S. Soccer to red-shirt their fall semester that year. A number players opted to play college ball instead and the USA finished fourth under Michelle French at the 2016 U-20 World Cup.
Heinrichs also became a lightning rod for critics of U.S. Soccer during the turf war with the ECNL following the launch of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. The ECNL claimed U.S. Soccer pressured players to join DA clubs.
A World Cup winner as a player in 1991 and Olympic gold medal-winning coach in 2004, Heinrichs became Technical Director in January 2011.
“April Heinrichs is a world champion as a player, a coach and an administrator,” U.S. Soccer Secretary General/CEO Dan Flynn said. “She is a pioneer for the women’s game who never hesitated to share her knowledge and experience for the betterment of others and for that we are all appreciative.
In all, Heinrichs has been involved in 20 Women’s World Cup, Olympic Games or youth World Cup tournaments as a player, coach, scout, or member of the FIFA Technical Study group.
“Looking back starting in 1985 as a player and then head coach of our Women’s National Team in the early 2000s, it was a dream come true in every conceivable way,” said Heinrichs. “And then to have eight years as Director of our Youth National Teams, working with our nation’s best and brightest players and coaches, I can’t imagine a better profession. It’s a privilege every time you represent the USA, every time you step on the team bus and at every training session. I’ve done it for so many years and now is a good time for someone else to do it.”