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2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup

Twila Kilgore and Sam Coffey go deep on the USWNT’s Gold Cup evolution

Photo Copyright Chris Nicoll for USA TODAY Sports

Say what you will about Twila Kilgore, but you have to respect her consistency. 

The United States women’s national team interim head coach is, shall we say, unflappable when asked for her analysis of the team’s performances.  “You’re always looking early on in the game to see what the referees’ choices are going to be, and how that affects the game,” she noted after the US’s 3-0 win over Colombia in the CONCACAF W Gold Cup quarterfinals.

That’s about as close as you’ll get to a Laura Harvey-esque outburst about the quality of a game’s officiating. When asked yesterday about what she expects from Canada in the semifinals, she delivered her catchphrase: “We respect all of our opponents.” This is the Twila Kilgore Experience: her cards are played so close to the vest that they become part of the fabric. 

Kilgore’s role in the next phase of the US’s evolution has been documented to death. If people still don’t know what they’re going to get from her, they haven’t been paying attention.

That’s why it was a bit surprising when an undercurrent of energy seemed to flow through her voice after the Colombia win. It was the team’s most significant victory in Kilgore’s 10 games in charge to date. She was ever so slightly less of a cipher than normal. She even managed to get specific about the analysis. From the outside, it’s been easy to wonder if the messaging around the game plan and execution was a cover for tinkering and uncertainty. Kilgore made a compelling case that despite the hectic, highly vertical performance, it was an outgrowth of the versatility she (and Emma Hayes by proxy) had been preaching since December last year.

“Being on the front foot and making sure that our No. 9 and No. 10 were ready to defend was a really important thing in the game [against Colombia],” she said. “We knew that it was likely that most of our chances would come from transition, and making sure that we had very clear roles and responsibilities between the two of them was really important.”

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