Kate Markgraf, the first U.S. women's national team general
manager, has quickly left a mark on the program.
She hired the popular Vlatko Andonovski away from Reign FC to become national team head coach.
And she lured Laura Harvey, another leading candidate for the national team job, away from the Utah Royals to become the U.S. U-20 women's national team coach, filling a position left vacant just six weeks before U-20 World Cup qualifying when Mark Carr took the women's job two weeks ago at the University of Oklahoma.
(The Royals named assistant coach Scott Parkinson as interim head coach while they conduct a formal search for a replacement.)
U-20 schedule: Harvey will hold a 12-day training camp for 26 players that begins Thursday in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. From that camp, she will select 20 players for the Concacaf U-20 Women's Championship to be held from Feb. 15-March 1 in the Dominican Republic. The 2020 Under-20 Women's World Cup will be held in Panama and Costa Rica this August.
"I'm really excited and happy to come on board with U.S. Soccer," Harvey said. "I'm looking forward to what the immediate future holds and I'm ready to get to work with the most talented young players in the country. Getting back to coaching international football has been something I've been interested in and to be involved with this new generation of national team players is going to be a great challenge and responsibility."
Harvey spent seven seasons as a head coach in the NWSL, the first five with the Seattle Reign, winner of the 2014 and 2015 Shield, and the last two with the Royals. She was also named NWSL Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Harvey leaves the league with an overall 72-52-38 record, including playoff appearances. Andonovski, Harvey and the Chicago Red Stars' Rory Dames are the only head coaches who had been with teams in the NWSL since Day 1. (Portland's Mark Parsons joined the Washington Spirit midway through the first season.)
Harvey, 39, coached Birmingham City and Arsenal in her native England before moving to the NWSL in 2013. She has worked with youth national teams in England, taking the U-17s to the 2008 world championship, and has worked as a scout for the U.S. U-17s and as a head coach and assistant coach for the U-23s.
"Laura is a talented and passionate coach whose knowledge translates extremely well to the international game," said Markgraf. "Her women's club and youth national team experience in England, her time with our youth national teams and her seven professional seasons in the NWSL have prepared her well to help mold the development of our next generation."
Other duties: Besides overseeing the U-20s, Harvey will also manage the evaluation and movement of players in the U-18 and U-19 national teams during the World Cup cycle. The move to U.S. Soccer will give Harvey the time to take the U.S. Soccer Pro Course, making her just the second woman after Jill Ellis to take the coaching course.
Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire
With the U20 World Cup being played in Costa Rica and Panama, the CONCACAF qualifying tournament will now be for two spots, not three (both hosts qualify). If form holds, Mexico gets to the finals - both finalists will qualify - on one side of the playoffs, USA would face Canada for the other.
Plan B qualifying through a third place game is no longer an option.
That's a tall order given that the team is, six weeks out, not one. The most recent camps have been much more ID camps - with a coach now departed - than for training up a team, or even the core of a team.