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USWNT must embrace mistakes under new coach: U.S. Soccer

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer wants to establish a consistent style of play throughout the federation, from its women’s and men’s national teams to its youth development systems, sporting director Matt Crocker said. But that will come with growing pains.

The next U.S. women’s national team head coach is set to be hired by the end of the year, and the new hire will help to implement those plans. But that will take time, both in terms of the broader vision and the specific tactics, which could result in a bumpy transition period.

U.S. Soccer is prepared for that, Crocker told reporters Sunday.

“If we’re going to be brave, to play in tight pockets of space in those midfield areas, to start with, we’re going to make mistakes,” Crocker said. “And if the first time we make those mistakes, we just revert back in time, we’re never going to get past that stage. We’ve got to be brave enough to know that, on occasion, things might go wrong.

“But I don’t think we’ll ever stop trying to win, because the culture in that team, they’re winners, and everybody wants the program to be successful. We’ve also got to recognize that we are in a moment in time where we’re going to go through this learning process together. We have to accept that there’s going to be mistakes.

“And the head coach has to be brave enough to stand there above the players and go, ‘Those mistakes are on me in this period of time while we implement those things.”

As for what level of consistency he wants to see, Crocker made it clear that he recognizes the differences in the women’s and men’s games even as he aspires to a cohesive program.

“What it takes to win in both of those games might look slightly different, and we need to recognize that,” he said. “Probably 80% of it is going to be consistent across both pathways. But I think there’s this 10 or 15 or 20%, that needs to look and feel differently, because the game is different.”