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): 2023
USA vs. Colombia (in Sandy, Utah) Oct. 29.
USA vs. Colombia (in San Diego) Nov. 27-Dec. 5.
FIFA window (2 friendlies). 2024
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.
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."