The U.S. women’s national team has been on the hunt for its next head coach.
From OL Reign’s Laura Harvey to Australia’s Tony Gustavsson, the rumor mill has been buzzing with names. But after a three-month search, Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes seems primed to take the job.
Just Women’s Sports has been keeping track of the conversations surrounding the search for Vlatko Andonovski’s replacement. Check back here for the latest.
Emma Hayes is set to become the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, according to multiple reports.
The 47-year-old from England is stepping down as Chelsea head coach at the end of the Women’s Super League season. While the Women’s Super League season does not end until May 2024, Hayes could join the USWNT during international breaks over the next seven months before stepping into the role full-time at the conclusion of the season, Backheeled reported.
Hayes joined Chelsea as head coach in 2012. In her 11 seasons with the club, not including the 2023-24 season, she has won six league titles, five FA Cups, two FA League Cups and one Community Shield.
U.S. Soccer has whittled down its candidate pool, with three names atop the shortlist, The Athletic reported Friday.
OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey, Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson and Juventus women’s head coach Joe Montemurro are the leading contenders, though each comes with pros and cons.
The 38-year-old defender spoke with reporters about the coaching search ahead of the USWNT’s October friendlies.
“I have been involved a little bit, but just kind of updated periodically about where they are in the process,” Sauerbrunn said. “I don’t know names of candidates or anything like that, but I was aware of when candidates were being flown in for interviews and that sort of thing.
“We’re getting close and I think that they’ve got a few candidates that they’re very excited about. But for the most part, it’s just been process and knowing where we are in the process.”
Donaldson, who led Jamaica to the knockout round for the first time at the 2023 World Cup, is parting ways with the team, the Jamaica Football Federation announced Friday.
“After an extended discussion, both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed,” the JFF wrote on social media. Donaldson’s contract is set to expire on Sept. 30.
While Donaldson has not been linked to the USWNT opening, his name has popped up as an intriguing candidate. He coached USWNT star forwards Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson during their youth careers in Colorado.
U.S. Soccer has gathered “an unbelievably diversity pool exciting candidates” for the USWNT head coaching position, sporting director Matt Crocker said. He also reaffirmed that the federation is “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 diversity in the candidate pool extends to gender, ethnicity and experience levels, which puts the USWNT in position to find the best person for the job, Crocker said.
“I feel really excited about the coaches that we have that are interested in the role, which I think is a great indication of how highly this role is considered across the world game,” he said. “My job has been from the start: Go and find us the best candidate in the world.”
Crocker also is having discussions with USWNT players about what they want to see in the next head coach. He has talked to roughly half of the team so far, and he plans to speak with “every single player,” he said.
U.S. Soccer is hoping to hire the next head coach of the USWNT by December, sporting director Matt Crocker told TNT.
Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will remain in her position for the team’s September friendlies against South Africa and its October friendlies against Colombia.
“Twila will pick up the September and the October camps with the staff,” he said. “And you know, in an ideal world, we’d like to be in a position for the December camp to have the new head coach in place.”
For Crocker, the ability to make tactical changes on the fly is an important attribute for the next coach. He also wants the USWNT head coach to be a hands-on presence within U.S. Soccer, including at its Chicago headquarters.
The USWNT legend shut down any discussion of her name in connection with the opening, saying she does not have the “bandwidth” or “patience” for the job.
“I’m not the coaching type,” she told TODAY.com when asked if she would want to lead the team. Hamm joins several other players in turning the conversation toward more experienced coaching candidates.
Several former USWNT players weighed in on their own credentials for the USWNT head coaching job.
Lloyd called herself “a definite no” given her lack of coaching licenses and experience. Brandi Chastain also said she is “not ready” this time around, but she said she would “love to lead this national team some time in the future.”
Former goalkeeper Briana Scurry did not throw her hat into the ring as a head coaching candidate. But when asked if she would be up for a position with U.S. Soccer, Scurry did not say no. “I would definitely consider it,” she told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
All of the above players also offered their take on what they want to see in the next head coach, as have current USWNT players, including Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Andi Sullivan.
“You need somebody, a leader, with a keen understanding of the system that is going to be played, how to implement the system, and which players are best for the system,” Heath said. “That doesn’t mean: Who are the best players? Who’s scoring the most goals? Who’s everyone talking about? It’s not that at all.”
The San Diego Wave head coach joked about being floated as a candidate because of her gender amid a debate over whether the next USWNT head coach should be a woman. But she didn’t offer much beyond that, only saying that she is happy in her current role with the Wave.
“I think there’s people that will go into that role and do very well,” she said. “I’m very happy where I am. I’m at a club that’s building something very special. I’m invested in my players and I will stay invested in my players.”
A former USWNT assistant under Jill Ellis, Gustavsson led the Matildas to the 2023 World Cup semifinal in their home country. And in the immediate aftermath of the tournament, he seemed committed to the future of the Australia program, though that could change if the USWNT comes calling.
“I don’t see this as an end of a journey. I see it as the beginning of a journey,” he said after Australia’s loss to Sweden in the third-place match. “But I also want to be very clear that I want to see investment now. I really do. I want to see investment and I mean like real investment that we’re serious about what we do.”
Gustavsson is under contract with Football Australia until the end of Australia’s 2024 Olympics run, but Ellis tabbed him as a “strong candidate” for the USWNT opening.
The 53-year-old Netherlands native led England to the World Cup final, where the Lionesses lost 1-0 to Spain. When asked about the USWNT job, she reiterated the details of her current contract.
“I have a contract until 2025,” Wiegman said. “I’m really enjoying my job, and I have the impression that people still like me doing that job. I have no plans to leave.”
The English Football Association plans to reject any approaches from rival countries interested in the manager, CEO Mark Bullingham said.
The former head coach of FC Barcelona Femení, he is stepping down as coach of the Ukrainian women’s national team at the end of August upon the expiration of his contract. He had been in conversations with some NWSL clubs, per The Athletic, but Relevo has reported that he also had been contacted by U.S. Soccer.
Even before Andonovski’s resignation, the OL Reign head coach was asked about a potential USWNT opening. She was on the shortlist for the job in 2019 before Andonovski was selected as Ellis’ successor, and she worked as a head coach at the developmental levels while also serving as an assistant coach to the senior team in 2020 and 2021.
And while she called the OL Reign her priority, she also labeled the USWNT head coaching position as “probably the top job in the world.”
“I enjoyed my time at U.S. Soccer. That’s no doubt,” she said. “The U.S. women’s national team is probably the top job in the world, if not a top three job in the world. That’s just reality. And if my name is anywhere near it, then that’s an honor.”