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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.”