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Why the NWSL’s offseason coaching carousel victories matter

From Giraldez arriving to Stoney staying — on top of Hayes taking over the USWNT — great coaches in the U.S. will attract more great players

San Diego Wave coach Casey Stoney speaks with players in the huddle.
Photo Copyright Ray Acevedo for USA TODAY Sports

Every hot-button issue — and there are many — in the National Women’s Soccer League right now comes back to a central theme of attracting and retaining the best players in the world.

Most of the discourse centers around structural investments. There’s an arms race in the NWSL right now for teams to build newer, custom training grounds to improve players’ day-to-day lives and give teams control over at least some of their facilities. The league just increased the salary cap to increase total roster spending by about 40% year over year to allow teams to better compete globally.

Overlooked in the battle for world supremacy is the level of coaching in the league, something that has steadily improved alongside the quality of play in recent years. There were plenty of player transfers in this winter window. Still, the impending arrival of Jonatan Giráldez to the Washington Spirit from FC Barcelona, the Chicago Red Stars’ hiring of Lorne Donaldson, and the San Diego Wave’s long-term extension with Casey Stoney to fend off interest from Chelsea, send a clear message that the league can attract and retain top coaching, too. Add the adjacent, impending arrival of Emma Hayes as the United States women’s national team coach — the best hire U.S. Soccer could have made — and the U.S. coaching circuit scored some major victories this offseason.

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