U.S. Soccer women’s development director Jill Ellis will serve as interim U.S. women’s national team coach for the upcoming matches against Germany on Oct. 20 and Oct. 23 while the search for a new permanent coach continues.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Friday he hopes the Federation can reach a decision on a new coach by the end of October, but that is not a hard deadline. With no major competitions in the immediate future, there is no immediate rush to fill the position. Gulati even admitted that some candidates being considered would not be available to begin until Jan. 1 due to contract commitments to colleges and international federations.
Ellis is not in consideration for the full-time job, a decision she made when the process of looking for a new coach began at the beginning of September. Ellis will continue on in her current role, as will former U.S. coach and current women’s technical director April Heinrichs, thus eliminating two significant female candidates.
For nearly a month I’ve had a post sitting in the ‘drafts’ column of this site stating that the next coach is ‘likely male, likely American.’ I think that still holds true. Gulati said on Friday that the best candidate for the job will be awarded the job, although an American would “absolutely” be ideal.
“If we’ve got the opportunity to hire an American coach we’re going to do that, if it’s right for the program,” he said.
‘Who?’ is, of course, the big question. Steve Swanson, the 13-year women’s head coach at the University of Virginia, just led the U.S. U-20 women to a World Cup title last month. Three years from now (at the next World Cup) those players will be the same age as Alex Morgan (23) and Sydney Leroux (22), two of the brightest young U.S. stars. But is Swanson even interested?
Paul Riley’s name has perhaps been chanted the most loudly by fans and it seems U.S. Soccer is listening, but to what extent remains to be seen.
Initially it seemed clear that the next U.S. coach needs to have direct involvement with the youth system, but what that actually means is still a bit murky. Gulati said on Friday that it “won’t be the decisive factor.” Whether youth involvement means identifying young players on the cusp of the national team or getting out there and actively getting involved with youth teams will depend on the coach.
Gulati said there were 25-30 serious inquiries for the position. It is unclear how many of those prospective coaches remain in the running for the U.S. women’s national team job.
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