One of the reported finalists in the U.S. women’s national team’s search for its next head coach may be out of the running.

Former USWNT assistant coach and current Australia manager Tony Gustavsson was one of three candidates at the top of U.S. Soccer’s shortlist, The Athletic reported on Oct. 27. Laura Harvey of OL Reign and Joe Montemurro of Juventus are the other contenders.

Yet the same report noted that Gustavsson is not likely to relocate to the United States. And on Wednesday, Gustavsson alluded to the prospect of remaining with Australia.

When asked by Australia’s Network 10 about the reported interest from the USWNT and whether he would still be with the Matildas for the 2024 Olympics, Gustavsson did not deny his involvement in the search. But he did note that he is happy with the Matildas, who he led to the 2023 World Cup semifinals.

“I love this team, Gustavsson said. “And we have unfinished business to do.”

U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker has said that the federation would like to have a new head coach in place by the team’s December friendlies. Those take place on December 2 and 5 against China.

Gustavsson, meanwhile, is in the middle of Olympic qualifying competition with Australia. The Matildas took a 3-0 win over Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, advancing to the third round of Asian qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

The search for the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team includes three names at the top of the shortlist, The Athletic’s Meg Linehan reported Friday.

OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey, who also was among the finalists in 2019, is one of them. She is joined by Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson and Juventus women’s head coach Joe Montemurro. While other candidates still may be in consideration, these three are the top contenders, sources told The Athletic.

Vlatko Andonovski stepped down as head coach of the USWNT in August after a disappointing finish at the 2023 World Cup. U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker set a target deadline of December for Andonovski’s replacement, with Twila Kilgore serving as the interim head coach.

Just Women’s Sports breaks down the three top candidates.

Laura Harvey, OL Reign

A longtime NWSL head coach, Harvey is preparing for OL Reign’s NWSL semifinal match against the San Diego Wave on Nov. 5. While she has said her focus is entirely on OL Reign, she also described the USWNT head coaching position as “probably the top job in the world” when asked about her prospects in early August.

The 43-year-old from England worked in the U.S. Soccer system in 2020 and 2021, serving as an assistant coach for the senior national team and as a head coach at the developmental levels. But OL Reign have struggled in the postseason under Harvey, and the USWNT could choose to steer clear of the NWSL coaching pool after Andonovski’s lackluster tenure.

Tony Gustavsson, Australia

(Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty Images)

Gustavsson led Australia to its first-ever World Cup semifinal in 2023. The 50-year-old from Sweden also has experience with the USWNT, serving as an assistant coach under Jill Ellis during the 2015 and 2019 World Cup title runs. After the Matildas’ success at the most recent World Cup, Ellis argued that Gustavsson should be a “strong candidate” for the USWNT opening.

Yet Gustavsson likely would not relocate to the United States, which could affect his prospects, sources told The Athletic. Crocker has said he wants the next head coach to be a hands-on presence within U.S. Soccer, including at its Chicago headquarters.

Joe Montemurro, Juventus

(Juventus FC via Getty Images)

Montemurro, 54, started his coaching career on the men’s side in his native Australia, then shifted to women’s clubs. He left his home country for the Arsenal women’s head coaching job in 2017, and he led the Gunners to the Women’s Super League title in the 2018-19 season. In 2021, he joined Italian club Juventus as its head coach, and the team is in second place in the Serie A standings to start the 2023-24 season.

Despite his strong club résumé, Montemurro brings no experience at the international level, which could hurt his chances for the USWNT job.

Even before Vlatko Andonovski officially resigned as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, the debates about who should replace him already had begun.

Despite the many differing opinions, everyone can agree on this: The new USWNT coach will face a tall task in preparing the team for next summer’s Olympics. And while the USWNT job is arguably the most desirable position in women’s soccer, it comes with great expectations.

Who has the skills and experience needed to lead the USWNT into its next era? Just Women’s Sports takes a look.

Note: Sarina Wiegman is not on this list because she has made it pretty clear that she is committed to remaining with England.

Lluís Cortés

One report already has linked Cortés to the USWNT as a possible replacement for Andonovski. 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.

Per The Athletic, Cortes had been in conversations with some NWSL clubs, but Relevo has reported that he also has been contacted by U.S. Soccer. Under his tutelage, Barcelona won the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League title. The team finished as runners-up in 2018-19 and twice won the Copa de la Reina.

Lorne Donaldson

Donaldson might be a sleeper pick for the USWNT head coach, but he’d make a lot of sense. His connection to Sophia Smith, Jaelin Howell and Mallory Swanson — all of whom he helped develop at the youth level — is intriguing, and his success with Jamaica despite limited resources even moreso.

One big knock against Donaldson is his limited experience, having only coached at the developmental club level and now for the Jamaican national team. But he is worth consideration, especially after leading Jamaica to its first-ever knockout round at the 2023 World Cup.

Tony Gustavsson

The Australia head coach feels like a somewhat natural hire for the USWNT. A longtime assistant coach for the U.S. under two separate head coaches, Gustavsson was a key member of the coaching staff for a long time. So long, in fact, that he designed the set piece plays that helped Carli Lloyd score twice during the 2015 World Cup final.

The one thing Gustavsson lacked in earlier USWNT coaching searches was head coaching experience. Since 2019, though, he took the helm for Australia, coaching the Matildas to their first-ever World Cup semifinal appearance.

Laura Harvey

Harvey is the lone NWSL manager on this list solely because the USWNT needs a coach with quality international experience (the Mark Parsons Netherlands era is an automatic disqualifier).

The OL Reign head coach has that experience – and with the USWNT. She’s worked as a head coach at the developmental levels while also serving as an assistant coach to the senior team from 2020 through 2021. She also has experience as a youth assistant in the England national team system. In short: Harvey checks most, if not all, of the boxes.

The three-time NWSL coach of the year, she also won six trophies while coaching at Arsenal. From her time as manager of the U-20 U.S. national team, she knows many of the younger players who are coming up in the ranks and will be tasked with taking over the USWNT and carrying on the legacy. And while she has said her priority right now remains with OL Reign, she has not ruled out the possibility of a return to the USWNT.

“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.”

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes has found immense success with Chelsea in the Women’s Super League, and she has been discussed before as a possible coach for England. She is familiar with the U.S. system, having coached at the collegiate level and for the Chicago Red Stars from 2008 to 2010. And since 2012, she has built Chelsea into a powerhouse program in the WSL.

Recently, Hayes signed USWNT star midfielder Catarina Macario and prospect Mia Fishel, and she has long coached Australian star Sam Kerr, so she’d clearly have some pull with players on the team. Whether or not she wants to leave what she’s building at Chelsea, however, remains to be seen.

The U.S. Women’s National Team is in the market for a new head coach after Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation, and one name that has been floated as a replacement is Tony Gustavsson.

Tony Gustavsson, a former USWNT assistant under Jill Ellis, led Australia to the World Cup semifinal this year as the team captured the attention of the nation. Gustavsson, however, seems focused on helping the Matildas reach the next level.

“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 has attracted some criticism for his tactical decisions and substitution patterns. But among USWNT fans, after a lackluster run under Andonovski – the team came in third at the 2021 Summer Games and was eliminated in the Round of 16 of this year’s World Cup – Gustavsson is an appealing candidate. Even Ellis, who led the USWNT to back-to-back World Cups alongside Gustavsson, said Gustavsson should “definitely be a strong candidate” for the head job.

The timing might be tricky, however. Gustavsson is under contract with Football Australia until the end of Australia’s 2024 Olympics run. And, for now at least, the coach seems happy in his current situation.

“What I can say is I love working with this team,” Gustavsson said. “It resonates with me as a coach; their identity and their why.”

Former U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis thinks Australia’s Tony Gustavsson should be a “strong candidate” for the USWNT job should Vlatko Andonovski be relieved of his duties.

Gustavsson served as an assistant coach for the USWNT under Ellis during the 2015 and 2019 World Cup title runs. And now he has led Australia to its first-ever World Cup semifinal, though the Matildas fell 3-1 to England in the match. His success is unsurprising for Ellis, who told ESPN that she always believed Australia had what it takes to make a “deep run.”

“I watched them play against France in the warm-up game, and I remember going, ‘This is a well-oiled machine. They’re going to make a deep run in this tournament,'” Ellis said. “You could just see it — the way they stepped together and moved together. It just reminded me a lot of our team in 2019. We were a very well-oiled machine, prepared for any situation.”

Gustavsson has credited his time with the USWNT as being helpful as he’s navigated through this year’s World Cup.

“Those experiences were extremely valuable in learning tournament football — it’s very different than week in, week out in a league,” Gustavsson said. “I’ve been a club coach as well, but playing tournaments is completely different. It’s about finding a way to win in the game right in front of you.

“If I look back from 2019 to where I am now, my mantra is I want to get better every day, not just one day older. I sit here one day older, but hopefully one day better as well.”

Gustavsson was a big part of the USWNT’s rebuilding process after the disappointment of the 2016 Olympics. And Ellis told ESPN that she has seen similarities in Australia, with Gustavsson following a similar playbook to guide the Matildas.

While nothing has been announced yet about Andonovski’s future with the USWNT, his contract expires at the end of the year. And Ellis thinks U.S. Soccer should consider Gustavsson for the position.

“He should definitely be a strong candidate for the job,” she said.

Sam Kerr played 65 minutes in Australia’s victory over France on Saturday in the quarterfinals, her longest outing yet in the World Cup. The star forward suffered a calf injury before the tournament and had played minimal minutes before Saturday.

Kerr gave Australia a much-needed boost, and after the team defeated France in penalty kicks, 7-6, there is growing hope that the all-time leading scorer in Australian international history will be able to start the semifinal match against England.

“Everyday I’m feeling better,” Kerr said afterwards. “Last game really gave me confidence, going in for 20 minutes, and getting a bit of a run. And then two training sessions under my belt. I’m feeling really good.”

Tony Gustavsson, Australia’s coach, was criticized by some for not starting Kerr against France. He said the “biggest decision” of the match was when to bring Kerr in as a substitute.

“I was informed that she had limited minutes today,” Gustavsson said. “And then we needed to put extra time into consideration. That was a massive decision to get right. When Sam came in we really had them on the hook. We really got the momentum, and from the fans as well.”

Kerr said the plan when she injured her calf was to be back in the starting lineup for the semifinal. And now, after the team’s dramatic penalty kicks victory in the quarterfinal, she is right on schedule – with a newfound respect for coming off the bench.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “I don’t envy people who are super-subs because it’s an amazing job they do. I just tried my best.”