USWNT to hire coach by end of year, federation promises

CHICAGO -- U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said he is pleased with where things stand in the search for the next manager of the women's national team, and that plans remain for the coach to be in place in time for a training camp in December.

Crocker spoke at a roundtable of reporters ahead of Sunday's friendly between the United States and South Africa, which will also mark the final international match for attacker Megan Rapinoe.

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"I am really happy with where we are with the search," Crocker said. "We have an unbelievably diverse pool of exciting candidates and we are on track -- comfortably on track -- to be in a position to have the head coach in place and ready to support the team from that early December camp."

The USWNT has been without a full-time manager since Vlatko Andonovski resigned on Aug. 17 in the wake of the team's hugely disappointing showing at the 2023 Women's World Cup.

The U.S. was eliminated via a penalty shootout by Sweden in the round of 16, the team's earliest exit in the program's history. It is currently being managed on an interim basis by Twila Kilgore.

U.S. Soccer is about halfway through the process of finding a successor, having whittled down the field of candidates into the low double digits. Crocker added that the current pool is diverse across gender, race and experience.

With the 2024 Summer Olympics just 10 months away, Crocker was asked whether any consideration had been given to hiring a manager to a short-term contract given that the pool of coaches figures to be broader after the Olympics. He indicated he isn't taking that approach.

"I'm excited by the quality and caliber of candidates that we've attracted already," Crocker said. "Looking at the candidates that we are in lockstep and in detailed discussions with, I'm really confident that we can get the right candidate to take this forward."

Crocker also indicated that the respective GM positions, previously filled by Kate Markgraf on the women's side and Brian McBride on the men's side, wouldn't be refilled.

"I'm just still in the process of finalizing the high-level supporting structure, but if you look at the GM role, my thinking is one of the big priorities for me is to make sure the senior men's coach and the senior women's coach report into the sporting director," he said. "I was pretty insistent on that. I feel like I'll be the one that will be recruiting those coaches.

"I'll be the one that will be making sure they've got robust development plans sitting with them or outlying the strategy. So it's my job to hold those guys accountable for what has been agreed."

Crocker added that a big chunk of the GM's previous responsibilities relating to youth national teams would be "split into other roles."