USWNT coaching search: Where things stand

U.S. Soccer remains on course toward filling the position of U.S. women's national team head coach left vacant following Vlatko Andonovski's resignation after the 2023 Women's World Cup.

Andonovski's contract was set to expire at the end of the year, but the USWNT's poor showing at the World Cup -- one win in four games, its first exit ever before the semifinals -- accelerated his departure,

It also gave new urgency to rebuilding the women's program, beginning with the selection of a new head coach.

“I am really happy with where we are with the search,” U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said at a media round-table before Sunday's USA-South Africa game in Chicago. “We have an unbelievably diverse pool of exciting candidates. We are on track to be in a position to have the head coach in place ready to support the team from early December.”

The plan is for Twila Kilgore, who coached the USA in its shutout wins over South Africa, to remain as interim coach through the October window when the USA will play Colombia twice and then for the new coach to work with the players for the last window of the year, which comes eight months before the start of the Paris Olympics.

USWNT schedule (2023-24):
Oct. 26.
USA vs. Colombia (in Sandy, Utah)
Oct. 29. USA vs. Colombia (in San Diego)
Nov. 27-Dec. 5. FIFA window (2 friendlies).
Feb. 20-March 10. Gold Cup.
April 1-9. FIFA window (2 friendlies).
May 27-June 4. FIFA window (2 friendlies).
July 8-16. FIFA window (2 friendlies).
July 25-Aug. 10. Olympics.

Crocker won't wait until after the Paris Olympics to select a permanent head coach. That new coach will report directly to him. Kate Markgraf, who was the USWNT general manager for the last four years and hired Andonovski in 2019 to replace Jill Ellis, left the federation one day after Andonovski's departure. Crocker wants both senior head coaches -- Gregg Berhalter on the men's side and the yet-to-be-appointed USWNT coach -- to report to him and be held accountable by him.

“I was pretty, pretty insistent on that,” he said.

On TNT's postgame studio show after the recent USA-Oman men's game, Crocker made it clear what he saw as a priority in the new coach and for changes in the team:

"I guess what we'd like to do is maybe to develop more [of a] possession-based style, and to have maybe a Plan B. And a coach that has got the ability to make in-game changes in key moments to be able to improve the performance of the team is going to be key. And obviously a coach that is a development coach, so a coach that can integrate young players into the team is going to be important."

At the Women's World Cup, the USA had an 84-20 edge in shots, 25-2 edge in shots on target and 9.0-1.4 edge in expected goals, but it managed to score only four goals -- three in the opener against Vietnam, which was playing its first World Cup match, and none over the last 238 minutes, the longest scoring drought in its World Cup history.

"There was definitely a sense we need to be better with the ball and have more solutions, in particular in building the attack," Crocker reiterated on Sunday. "And when we faced a low block, we’ve got the ball and there’s a back five and a deep four midfield, having creative solutions in those tight spaces and having the players and also the tactics to beat the low block."

19 comments about "USWNT coaching search: Where things stand".
  1. Bob Ashpole, September 25, 2023 at 11:20 p.m.

    What he says to the press is unimportant. What matters is his actions. 

    What does he mean by "possession-based" style, I have no clue. It depends on his view of the senior game. Some people would call USSF's "play out of the back" system a possesion-based style. This is why I use the term positional play. I think it is more clear than "possession" style.

    The best way to explain positional play tactics is to compare it to chess. Every movement is to a position that strengthens the attack and defense at the same time.

  2. humble 1, September 26, 2023 at 1:20 a.m.

    It is risky if we try and implement a style of play that requires very techincal players if we have not built out a youth ID and development system that can produce those techincal players with consistency.  Maybe we have.  I have not seen it.  Yet.  When those type players are produced - very techincal - I read their stories and almost always - I see their development is bespoke - not systematic.  They are exceptions to what the system produces.  You have to work with what you are able to produce here. My son is very techical - guess what - he was not produced a club - they would have ruined him - he was produced by coaches and trainers.  American football trainers too.  They are actually better than most soccer clubs speed and agility people.  Find a good coach/trainer - stay with him/her.  Find another - train with him/her. Anyway - we will after a while - process very opaque here - for whatever reason.   

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, September 26, 2023 at 12:36 p.m.

    I know that your view makes common sense, but positional play is a set of tactical principles. Everyone can use those principles. What you are really saying is that US players lack good soccer skills. That is not a roadblock to adapting good tactics. 

    Yes, poor skills hamper limits a team's capability on the field. But that is true of every tactical system. IMO you get more capability from using the best tactical principles. There is a reason doctors don't want healthy people walking with crutches.

    Will US players have the ball skills necessary to play successfully in small spaces if they use positional play? No, of course not. But coaches will value ball skills more in their selection of players. That could have a significant impact.

    There is no downside to positional play. The team will be no worse off for using positional play, but might be more successful with a more sophisticated tactical view of the senior game.

    Step one, don't conflate tactical principles with game plans. Principles are universal, game plans are solutions to a match based not just on principles, but more importantly based on players available.

  4. Kerry Solomon, September 26, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.

    I have concerns with their approach based on the fact that they supposedly went through an entire involved process and STILL came back for Berhalter for the men.  Based on that choice, it appears they are clueless and US Soccer needs to clean house starting at the top.

  5. Alan Blackledge replied, September 26, 2023 at 8:35 a.m.

    I would posit that you are clueless...

  6. Ben Myers replied, September 26, 2023 at 10:10 a.m.

    Despite another remark to the contrary, I agree.  USSF management of our national teams, selection of coaches, development of players is seriously deficient.

  7. Oswald Dwyer replied, September 26, 2023 at 1:12 p.m.


  8. R2 Dad replied, September 27, 2023 at 11:50 a.m.

    Finally found a GB homer--there had to be at least one out there!

  9. Richard Schemmel, September 26, 2023 at 7:45 a.m.

    They need an assistant coach that can teach them to sing the national anthem! If they can't sing it they're not taking up a spot on the roster.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, September 26, 2023 at 12:17 p.m.

    We want a soccer team, not a choir.

  11. Frank Strazzulla, September 26, 2023 at 12:38 p.m.

    When you put on a national shirt you play for the entire country, not the woke fraction of it.  USWMT lost sight of this and did something that's really hard to do for a national team-have half the country rooting for it to lose.  That has to end if the team is to restore not only it's success on the field but the brand equity it destroyed over the last 5 years.

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, September 26, 2023 at 2:34 p.m.

    Sorry but that doesn't fly. Blame the "woke" person for other people's reactions.

    IMO the elephant in the room is that some of the players are lesbian, and in this context the ambigous term "woke" is a euphemism for lesbians and those that associate with lesbians. I use my freedom to think, make choices and act on my decisions. I don't require or even expect others to make the same choices as I do. 

  13. R2 Dad replied, September 27, 2023 at 11:58 a.m.

    Going to disagree w you on that Bob. In the current meta, People don't really care about LGB, it's the T part and "we're coming for your children" that is the problem. Who is critical of Harris and Krueger adopting a baby? Only a tiny fringe. Studies and polls back this up.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, September 27, 2023 at 2:19 p.m.

    Sorry, I don't buy that. I would have to read the studies myself. What I see is repressed hostility because of what is socially acceptable. For instance racial discrimination. It hasn't disappeared after the Civil Rights movement. It just went underground. Same with intolerance generally. Since the MAGA movement, racists who were politically opposed to desegregation and equal rights have become vocal because within MAGA intolerance is not only socially acceptable but encouraged. It is the increase in tolerance over the last 30 years that the MAGA Republicans are reacting too with their namecalling including "liberal" and "woke". This backlash is what Trump and others are encouraging and taking advantage of.

    People lie in polls all the time. They want to make themselves look better or appear to conform to social norms. So a question like "are you a rascist" has little value. The issue has to be approached indirectly. The movement Republicans adoption of Abortion as a political issue is entirely a fig leaf for racism. Rolling back civil rights laws and suppressing the rights of  minorities including women is not an attractive political issue. So they chose abortion as a rallying cry.

  15. James Madison, September 26, 2023 at 3:28 p.m.

    What he says is cool re the national team coaches, but what he leaves out is any mention of a development program that will produce players who can play as he envisions,

  16. uffe gustafsson, September 26, 2023 at 6:16 p.m.

    Bob u are right on.
    keep at it I'm so done w the Woke term at every turn.
    but at the Wellington stadium the phillipino team all came after the game to below the stadium and showed great deal of respect to the fans bowing and clapping that's real appreciation. And the fans was cheering em on.
    beutiful sight to see.

  17. Ben Myers, September 26, 2023 at 7:49 p.m.

    Woke has little to do with the failure of the USWNT. Spain was pretty woke, too, but the women won the World Cup, using the strife and obstacles to motivate themselves.

    Yes, woke was a distraction for some, but a mediocre coach, possibly not making the best selections, did not make best use of players at his disposal at the World Cup, did manage to demotivate all the unused bench players.

    And let's face it.  The US system, which is not a system but a hodge-podge of moneyed interests, does not develop players well to play professionally in the European Big 5 and environs, where all the real action is.

  18. R2 Dad, September 27, 2023 at 12:04 p.m.

    " beginning with the selection of a new head coach." the coach is just the itch that needs scratching, while we ignore the excema that has overtaken the entire soccer community. Interesting that DW Kick Off "why Germany sucks at football these days" came to the opposite conclusion. It's not the coach, they needed to rethink youth development.

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, September 28, 2023 at 12:13 a.m.

    It is a false dichotomy to think that the coach is not a problem since youth development is a problem. It can be both.

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