The U.S. women’s national team soon will bring in a new head coach following the departure of Vlatko Andonovski, and the prospect of a new era brings with it both excitement and nerves for players.
Several players have given their thoughts on what they want to see in the next head coach, and the most common request so far is a coach with ample international experience. On the latest episode of Just Women’s Sports‘ “Snacks” podcast, Alyssa Naeher and Lynn Williams spoke about the emotions behind it all.
The national team will enter its September camp in mere weeks, with Twila Kilgore as the interim head coach. And while there’s excitement in getting the team back together, there’s still a whole lot of new on the horizon.
“There’s going to be a new coach, there’s gonna be a new GM,” Williams said. “There’s gonna be a whole newness that’s in some ways exciting, but also very nerve-racking. Because you just never know, you never know if this coach is going to favor you.”
Williams added there’s a “plethora of things” that come with a new coach. And while there are nerves and some anxiety, there’s also an element of excitement.
“There is excitement. There’s nerves. There’s all of it,” Naeher said. “But I think that’s why we still do it.”
Naeher knows she’s in an interesting position right now, given that her Chicago Red Stars are in the midst of an ownership change. Amid all the transitions, “there’s nothing in my life that’s remotely stable at the moment,” she told Williams and co-host Sam Mewis. She is facing down plenty of questions: What is next for the Red Stars? What is next for the USWNT? What will the USWNT coach bring to the table? How will the national team prepare for the 2024 Olympics?
“There is excitement in the newness, newness is always scary,” Naeher continued. “Change is always scary. It’s always trying to hold on to not changing because you always [would] almost rather sail with what’s known then explore what’s not. It probably shouldn’t be that way. But we hold so tightly on to what we know.”
While there will be some familiarity with Kilgore in the September camp, players also know that this camp will be a good time to press the reset button. From here on, the team is moving forward and leaving the 2023 World Cup in the past.
Naeher would love to see the next coach of the USWNT bring out the best in each individual player as part of the collective whole. She also wants to see the team build its own identity while also respecting and representing the identity honed by the generations before.
“We have so many talented players, not just in the group of 23 that we just had, but even extending beyond that,” she said. “And how can we hone in on what each special skill is and create a new identity, but that is also representative of the 25 years that have come before us.
“I think that’s the fun part of a new challenge is, it’s our identity. It’s the new team’s identity, but it’s building off of all the building blocks of what’s come before us and each team that’s come and worn the jersey and represented the crest has all left a mark and their own imprint on the federation. That’s what we started building it on. And now it’s our opportunity to add our own little building blocks and create our own different things building on the past and looking towards the future all in one fell swoop.”