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USWNT coaching search: U.S. Soccer wants to talk to ‘every player’

U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker confirmed on Sept. 24 that the federation is "on track" to hire a USWNT coach by December. (Javier Fernandez-Dussaq/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

As U.S. Soccer searches for the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, the federation is taking players’ opinions seriously, sporting director Matt Crocker said Sunday.

Already, U.S. Soccer has gathered an “unbelievably diverse pool of exciting candidates,” Crocker told reporters ahead of the USWNT’s 2-0 win against South Africa. He is happy with where the search stands, and he reaffirmed that the federation is “on track” to hire the new coach by December.

“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 has included USWNT players in the process. He has talked with roughly half of the roster so far about what they want to see in the next head coach, and he wants to talk to “every single player” before making the hire, he said.

During his conversations, several qualities have emerged as necessities for Vlatko Andonovski’s replacement.

“There was definitely a sense of – this is no disrespect to the history – but the players want, going forward, a coach that can build, develop, and source outstanding relationships, that builds trust quickly, that can talk with gravitas and confidence about the direction of the program, that can be brave enough and bold enough to make the changes that are needed to take the program forward both on and off the pitch, and can explain the why really crystal clear and with simple facts,” Crocker said.

Throughout the search for the next USWNT head coach, Crocker, who joined U.S. Soccer in April, is looking to build relationships with players and to make sure their voices are heard.

“It’s important to listen to the players. There’s a hell of a lot of experience and a hell of a lot of great knowledge within that team, both youth coming through but also from the players who are multiple world champions,” he said. “And for me to get the context from them is really, really important.”