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USWNT coaching search: Tracking the candidates under consideration

Emma Hayes led Chelsea to the 2023 Women’s Super League title. (Harriet Lander/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

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.


Nov. 4: Chelsea’s Emma Hayes in line for USWNT opening

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.


Oct. 27: OL Reign’s Harvey, Australia’s Gustavsson and Juventus’ Montemurro top shortlist

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.


Oct. 23: Becky Sauerbrunn: USWNT is ‘getting closer’ to hire

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.”


Sept. 29: Lorne Donaldson parts ways with Jamaica

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.


Sept. 24: U.S. Soccer has ‘unbelievably diverse pool’ of candidates

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.


Sept. 12: U.S. Soccer lays out timeline for hire

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.


Sept. 6: Mia Hamm offers decisive ‘no’ on USWNT job

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.


Aug. 21: Carli Lloyd calls herself ‘definite no’ for USWNT opening

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.”


Aug. 19: Casey Stoney remains ‘very happy’ with San Diego Wave

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.”


Aug. 19: Australia’s Tony Gustavsson downplays rumors

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.


Aug. 18: Sarina Wiegman has ‘no plans to leave’ England

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.


Aug. 16: Lluís Cortés linked to USWNT opening

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.


Aug. 7: Laura Harvey: USWNT head coach is ‘top job in the world’

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.”

Costa Rica Holds USWNT to 0-0 Draw in Frustrating Olympic Send-Off

USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball by Costa Rica forward Melissa Herrera and midfielder Gloriana Villalobos
The USWNT had 12 shots on goal on Tuesday despite failing to find the back of the net. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The USWNT didn't quite get the going away party they were hoping for, settling for a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday in their final tune-up match before the 2024 Olympics kick off next week.

The US produced 26 shots — 12 on target — alongside 67 touches in the box, the most in any match where they failed to convert a single goal since at least 2015, per Opta. Yet they also faced a heroic performance from Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, who tallied 12 saves on the night.

USWNT starters remained mostly intact

After Saturday's win over Mexico, USWNT manager Emma Hayes opted for a very similar starting XI, only swapping Crystal Dunn in for Jenna Nighswonger due to load management.

Named starter Rose Lavelle was a late scratch from the lineup after team warmups, with US Soccer attributing her last-minute absence to "leg tightness." Lavelle was replaced by midfielder Korbin Albert, giving the US a slightly less aggressive attacking edge throughout the match.

Casey Krueger, Lynn Williams, Jaedyn Shaw, Emily Sonnett, and rookie Croix Bethune all got minutes in the second half, coming off the bench to contend with Washington, DC's brutally hot conditions.

USWNT forward Sophia Smith and Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos battle for the ball
Costa Rica managed to fend off the USWNT with a strong defensive low-block. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY)

Costa Rica's low-block spelled trouble

"Listen, if you play a game of percentages or law of averages, we're creating more and more high-quality chances, and we're getting numbers into key areas — we're getting touches in the key areas," Hayes told reporters after the match, calling attention to Costa Rica's strong defensive low-block.

"The last part's the hardest part. And I'm really patient, because I've coached teams that have to break blocks down, and it's the hardest thing to do in coaching," she continued.

Hayes also noted the team's lack of training time under her management: The decorated coach officially joined the US in early June after finishing the WSL season with her previous club, league champs Chelsea FC.

USWNT pose for a picture after their send-off friendly against costa rica at Audi Field
The USWNT's Olympic group stage run kicks off on July 25th. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Where to watch the USWNT's Olympic games

Tuesday's draw is just the second time the USWNT has entered a major tournament off a non-win. Back in 2015, the US embarked on their legendary World Cup campaign after a 0-0 send-off draw with South Korea.

The next time the USWNT takes the pitch will be at the Paris Olympics, where they'll play Zambia on Thursday, July 25th at 3 PM ET. The match will be broadcast live on USA, with streaming options available on Peacock.

The Late Sub Podcast: This Is Sophia Smith’s USWNT Attack Now

Sophia Smith dribbles during the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico last Saturday. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins breaks down the days leading up to the first USWNT Olympic send-off friendly, discussing player performances, things that worked well on the pitch, and what still needs developing as coach Emma Hayes's team moves towards a crucial Olympic competition set to will dictate the future of the team.

She then sets her sights on the WNBA, previewing WNBA All-Star Weekend and chatting with Gatorade Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Joyce Edwards alongside Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally.

Subscribe to The Late Sub to never miss an episode.

USWNT Looks to Extend Winning Streak in Final Olympic Send-Off

USWNT striker Sophia Smith dribbles through Costa Rican defenders during a 2022 Concacaf W Championship game.
The USWNT last took on Costa Rica at the 2022 Concacaf Championship semifinal. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The USWNT’s last tune-up match before the Olympics has arrived, with the FIFA world No. 5 US looking for an 18th-straight all-time win over No. 44 Costa Rica tonight at Washington, DC's Audi Field.

Just three days after a redemptive 1-0 victory over No. 29 Mexico, head coach Emma Hayes’s Paris-bound roster appears to be finding its stride. Calling Saturday’s win "a step in the right direction," Hayes went on to say, "I think we’re only scratching the surface. I think there’s a lot of layers to go from everyone."

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 13: USWNT coach Emma Hayes stands on the field before a game between Mexico and USWNT
The new-look USWNT is looking to hit its stride after several matches under Hayes. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Hayes's USWNT is still finding its footing

With their first Olympic group stage game against No. 64 Zambia slated for July 25th, the new-look USWNT — which features the youngest roster in 16 years — is working to define its style of play.

While the USWNT’s signature ability to score in transition remains a strong point, the team also acknowledged their shaky first half on Saturday, with midfielder Rose Lavelle commenting that they're "working on being a little more tactically flexible... We’re trying to, as a group, learn how to adjust on the fly and be a little smarter with our adjustments during the games."

The patience required to choose their moments, along with the team’s ability to read and anticipate each other's movements, is clutch to increasing effectiveness in the areas where the USWNT appeared most disjointed against Mexico.

At stake is an Olympic podium finish, where the US hopes to improve on their bronze medal performance in Tokyo — but the team also aims to make a splash amidst their increasingly sophisticated opponents.

Costa Rica captain Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez chases the ball during a match against Panama in 2020.
Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez, Costa Rica's captain, is the only NWSL on their Olympic roster. (Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Rodriguez leads a rising Costa Rica team

If improving offensive unity and production is tonight’s goal, Las Ticas could provide the ideal matchup: In their 17 previous meetings, the USWNT has outscored Costa Rica 90-2 overall.

That said, Costa Rica has switched things up since the sides last met in July 2022, with the US defeating the Central American squad 3-0 in the Concacaf Championship semifinal. Las Ticas competed in the 2023 World Cup and reached the Gold Cup quarterfinals earlier this year, where they narrowly fell to No. 8 Canada in extra time.

Costa Rica is captained by 30-year-old Angel City midfielder Rocky Rodriguez, the lone NWSL player on their roster and, in 2015, the first Costa Rica national to ever score in a Women's World Cup.

In addition to maintaining a perfect record against Costa Rica, the USWNT will look to extend their current unbeaten streak to nine, which includes three shutouts in Hayes’s first three matches at the helm.

Lindsay Horan drinks water before the USWNT's match against Ireland in April 2023.
An excessive heat warning is in effect for Washington, DC today. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

Where to watch the USWNT vs. Costa Rica friendly

Expect some hydration breaks due to DC's scorching temperatures during tonight’s 7:30 PM ET match, airing live on TNT and streaming on Peacock.

TruTV and Max will simultaneously air the first-ever USWNT altcast, hosted by retired USWNT star Sam Mewis, former USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, and Men in Blazers founder Roger Bennett.

Sizing Up USWNT’s 2024 Olympic Competition

Germany's Giulia Gwinn steps to the ball while Iceland's Sandra Jessen slides in during Friday's UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match.
Germany lost their Euros qualifier against Iceland 3-0 on Friday, less than two weeks before Olympic football begins. (Hulda Margret/Getty Images)

With Olympic soccer kicking off in just over a week, the USWNT isn't the only national squad prepping for the podium with a series of pre-Paris matchups. Both international friendlies and important qualifiers are on the docket, with several European teams competing for a spot in the UEFA Women's EURO 2025.

Regardless of the stakes, these performances might provide some insight into what the USWNT can expect once the Summer Games begin.

Czechia national soccer team celebrates as Spain women's national soccer team defender Laia Aleixandri leaves the pitch
FIFA World No. 1 Spain fell to Czechia on Friday in a 2025 Euros qualifier. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Pre-Olympic matches expose problems for top teams

Of the 12 Olympic teams, recent outings from FIFA world No. 1 Spain and No. 4 Germany featured the most shocking outcomes.

Despite dominating possession behind an opening goal from 2023 Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí, the 2023 World Cup winners fell 2-1 to No. 30 Czechia in Friday's Euros qualifier — their first loss of 2024. They managed to bounce back on Tuesday, however, beating Belgium 2-0 to finish out the league stage on top with 15 points.

Spain heads into the Summer Games aiming to become the first women’s team to win a World Cup and Olympic gold back-to-back, though they’ll need to reclaim their composure to achieve that feat in the face of an Olympic group that includes Japan, Nigeria, and Brazil.

France defender Sakina Karchaoui celebrates her opening goal during Friday's 2-1 win over Sweden.
Defender Sakina Karchaoui scored the opening goal in France's 2-1 win over Sweden on Friday. (ARNAUD FINISTRE/AFP via Getty Images)

No. 2 France took down No. 6 Sweden 2-1 in Friday's Euro qualifier, but flipped the script on Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to last-place No. 25 Republic of Ireland, who notched their first win. However, thanks to England's 0-0 draw with Sweden — also on Tuesday — France still topped their qualifying group with 12 points. Les Bleus will look for more consistent results going into the Olympics, where they're set to face Colombia, New Zealand, and Guinea in the group stage.

But it was Germany who stumbled the hardest, losing out 3-0 to No. 14 Iceland in their own Friday qualifier. After the match, Germany's head coach Horst Hrubesch didn’t mince words.

"We have to assert ourselves from the start in the individual battles. The way we played just wasn’t good," Hrubesch told reporters. "We deserved to lose. We handed them all three goals on a plate."

Tuesday also saw improvement for Germany, as they routed Austria 4-0 to claim first place in the group standings with 15 points.

But the earlier loss was still foreboding for this German squad. The two-time world champions fell to 3-2 to Zambia just weeks before the 2023 World Cup, before failing to advance past the World Cup group stage for the first time in the tournament’s history. Germany also faces some tough Olympic group stage competition, battling Australia and the USWNT before crossing paths with Zambia once again.  

Team Canada celebrate their victory in the 2020 Olympic Gold Medal Match with Sweden
Team Canada has their work cut out for them if they want to repeat their Tokyo gold medal run. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Friendlies rally Olympic teams outside Europe

Defending Olympic champs FIFA World No. 8 Canada defeated No. 12 Australia 2-1 on Saturday, with KC Current forward Nichelle Prince and ex-Gotham striker Evelyne Viens both scoring in the friendly. Canada will play world No. 36 Nigeria in a closed-door friendly on Wednesday before kicking off their Olympic campaign against New Zealand on July 25th. 

For their part, No. 28 New Zealand drew 1-1 in a friendly with No. 64 Zambia on Saturday, while non-Olympic-bound Ecuador handed No. 22 Colombia a 2-1 send-off loss.

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