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USWNT will prioritize ‘tactics’ in search for next head coach

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The next U.S. women’s national team head coach must be able to adjust on the fly.

Vlatko Andonovski struggled to do so during the 2023 World Cup, which doomed the team to an early exit and resulted in his resignation. His replacement will need to bring more tactical flexibility to the table.

After “the disappointment of the World Cup,” the U.S. Soccer Federation has talked with players and staff members about the next chapter for the team — and particularly “the tactics of what we want the team to look like going forward,” U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said Tuesday.

The U.S. already has the pieces and the players to field a high-quality team. But they need to find the right person to guide them.

“If you look tactically, we already know that we’ve got a great group of athletic women and a huge pool to pick from, so things like our ability to transition quickly is a key strength, defensively we’ve been really strong,” Crocker said Tuesday after the USMNT’s win over Oman.

Crocker knows he will be “accountable” for the big decision, so he is taking “an evidence-based approach” in the search for the next USWNT head coach. He targeted a December deadline for the new hire.

In particular, he pointed to “the ability to make in-game changes in key moments” as a must-have for the USWNT.

“I guess what we’d like to do is maybe develop more in a possession-based style, and to have maybe a Plan B and a coach that has got the ability to make in-game changes in key moments to improve the performance of the team is going to be key,” he said. “And obviously a coach that is a development coach, so a coach that can integrate young players into the team is going to be important.

“But then probably the final attribute is going to be the human skills, the leadership skills, so a strong communicator, someone that can build fantastic relationships, someone that can drive the program forward is all gonna be key.”

Chelsea, Arsenal Planning U.S. Tour of NWSL Friendlies

Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea battles with Lotte Wubben-Moy of Arsenal during the 2023/24 FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
The last time Chelsea and Arsenal met, the Gunners walked away with the FA Women's League Cup. (Copa/Getty Images)

Two of the WSL's biggest teams will cross the pond this summer, set to battle both each other and select NWSL teams in a series of Stateside club friendlies.

On Monday, the Blues confirmed their matchup against NJ/NY Gotham FC on August 19th, setting up a showdown between two league champions. It’ll be the first time that the English title-winners square off with the NWSL champs. 

Longtime Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger recently joined Gotham FC, setting up an extra layer of intrigue ahead of the August 19th championship scuffle. 

It’s not Chelsea’s first time playing in the States. Back in August 2022, the Blues traveled to Portland to compete in that year's Women’s International Champions Cup.

ESPN reported on Saturday that fellow WSL contender Arsenal is scheduled to face the Washington Spirit in the same timeframe. To cap off their joint US tour, Arsenal will then take on the UK table-toppers at Audi Field in Washington DC.

Making things even more interesting, two of the teams featured in the club friendly series will have recently undergone coaching changes. The preseason matches could be a first look for Sonia Bompastor at Chelsea, as reports indicate that the Lyon manager will take over for incoming UWSNT coach Emma Hayes next season. (Chelsea is waiting until the conclusion of Champions League to make a formal announcement.) In the US, the Washington Spirit will be welcoming Jonatan Giráldez from Barcelona once he finishes his tenure with the Spanish club next month. 

This Saturday, Bompastor's Olympique Lyonnais Féminin will go up against Giráldez's FC Barcelona Femení in the 2024 UEFA Women's Champions League Final.

Chelsea Wins WSL Title, Sends Emma Hayes Off to USWNT in Style

chelsea fc celebrating their wsl title win
The Blues lifted the WSL trophy once again after beating Man United on Saturday. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Emma Hayes is bowing out of the WSL in style, with Chelsea winning its fifth consecutive WSL title on Saturday.

The Blues needed a win over Manchester United on Saturday and they got one in true Chelsea fashion, beating United 6-0 to take the WSL crown. While the team tied Manchester City in points at 55 apiece, they beat City on goal differential, outscoring their northern opponents 53 to 46.

The title is the team's fifth in a row and seventh under Hayes, who now departs Chelsea after 12 years as manager.

"I can't say it's my most enjoyable but it's definitely been the toughest, without doubt, and for that reason probably the sweetest," she told Sky Sports. "I'm just so relieved it's over. The hardest thing to do is five in a row because people take their eye off the ball. My legacy is winning while building a team for the future."

Midfielder Erin Cuthbert called the title the "hardest one yet" for Chelsea, but also the sweetest. A month ago, the team was virtually all but out of the title race, with Hayes conceding as much. Chelsea went on to right the ship, however, putting on a stunning eight goal performance against Bristol City to insert themselves back into the conversation.

"In the moments that really matter, we find a way," Cuthbert told BBC Sport. "We've never really backed down from a challenge. The fans have been with us from the start, they've been incredible this year.

"There have been a few rough moments, this title has taken about 10 years off my life if I'm being deadly honest. The hardest one yet, the sweetest one yet, so I'm going to enjoy tonight."

Hayes will now leave to manage the USWNT, telling BBC Sport on Saturday that the team and its fans will always in be in her heart.

"I don't think I have the words really. I am full with a ton of different emotions," she said. "I am ready, I have given everything I've got. [I am] ready for my next adventure."

Las Vegas Investigated for Aces Sponsorship, Per Reports

aces logo on basketball court
It's not the first time the Aces have found themselves in hot water over CBA violations. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A first-of-its-kind sponsorship has hit the WNBA, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) announcing on Friday it would be supporting all 12 players of the two-time WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.

The deal grants each player $100,000 dollars in exchange for representing the city in 2024 and 2025.

"The offer's really simple: We want you to just play, we want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that'd be icing on the cake," LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told the team in a video released Friday.

The news comes as WNBA salaries and team caps continue to be a point of contention in the league. With many players making less than $100,000 a year, outside sponsors have long helped bridge the financial gap for players. 

On Saturday, Aces coach Becky Hammon said that the local tourism bureau had reached out to all of the players individually via their agents, leaving the Aces organization out of the conversation entirely. The goal was to avoid breaking cap circumvention rules established by the league’s CBA.

"I'm going to put it to you real simple like this: Most of sponsorship people go after the top two people," Hammon said. "[A'ja Wilson] is taken care of — she's got plenty of stuff going on. [Kelsey Plum] has plenty of stuff. In this situation, from what I understand, is they wanted the whole team. So they went and called individuals, agents. I don't know the details. 

"I have nothing to do with it; the Aces don't have anything to do with it. It's just odd, but that's basically what happened."

Despite the apparent separation, the WNBA has launched an investigation into the legality of the sponsorship, according to multiple sources

While the sponsorship does not directly violate the league-wide salary cap because the LVCVA did not orchestrate the sponsorship with the club, other teams are likely to raise questions about its fairness and whether or not it violates the spirit of the cap rules. The deal could potentially upend the balance of what teams are able to offer players in the free agency market.

"We have 100 influencers we pay to represent Las Vegas," Hill told the Associated Press. "This isn’t any different then that. All of these ladies are completely eligible to have sponsorships. We are just asking them to represent Vegas."

It’s not the first time the league has investigated the Aces for cap circumnavigation. Just last year, the team faced consequences — Hammon was suspended for two games while the team lost its 2025 first-round draft pick — for crossing league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

"We get [things] from our agents all the time; they wanted it to be a big moment because it's something that's never happened before," Aces star forward A'ja Wilson said about the LVCVA's offer. "I don't understand the investigation; I haven't dived into it yet. I just looked at my phone [after the game] and was like, 'Oh, wow, just another day in the life of the Aces.' We can't ever start just normal, it's always going to be something, and that's okay."

Lynn Williams Laps Kerr as NWSL’s All-Time Leading Scorer

gotham fc's lynn williams celebrates a goal against chicago red stars
Lynn Williams celebrated her record-breaking goal 79th goal in Sunday's match against Chicago. (Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)

Gotham FC's Lynn Williams etched her name into the NWSL history books on Sunday, becoming the all-time leading goalscorer across all NWSL competitions. 

Coming in the 57th minute of Gotham's 2-1 win over Chicago, Williams's 79th goal breaks a tie with Sam Kerr for the league record. The header was her ninth-career headed goal, and her first since 2021.

"I don’t get the goals without my teammates. I have played with so many incredible people over the 10 years," Williams said after the game. "At the end of the day, I think I just owe it all to the people that are around me — all my teammates, all my family members. I just owe it all to them, and I can’t put any single one of those goals away without them."

Kerr still holds the regular season record, with 77 of her 78 goals having come in the regular season. Williams sits in second place with 66 regular season goals scored, having long been the top-scoring American in the NWSL. 

The USWNT regular has won four championships with the WNY Flash, North Carolina Courage, and reigning champions Gotham FC.

"Her commitment to make sure the team wins, even the last kick of the game is her kicking out of the box, no? She has that commitment, that passion, and that quality to be scoring goals in key moments for us, for the US, for whatever team she’s playing (for)," Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós said on Sunday. "She’s wearing the armband. Having people like her in this club is what we want."

"I’m just really proud of myself. I think that I have exceeded a lot of people’s expectations," Williams added. "For a very long time, I have believed in myself, and a lot of moments along the way I’ve been told, 'No, you’re not good enough.' And I think that every single time I score a goal, every single time I’m put on the field, it’s another moment for me to continue to believe in myself."

The striker even got a shoutout from one of the greatest of all time: Serena Williams. 

"Congrats cuz," she tweeted after the Gotham victory.

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