You’re doing your daily reading on ussoccer.com and you come across a name you don’t recognize. First thought: “Who is that?” Second: “What’s their deal?” Possible third: “Is that the same Jim/Mary/Bob that I dated in high school?” Well, you’ll find your answers here. We want you to be up-to-date on all the newest players and coaches that make their way to the full and youth Men’s and Women’s National Teams, so sit back, read on and get to know one of our newest members.
Greg Ryan has been a busy man since being named the fifth head coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history on April 8. In between fielding a pile of congratulatory emails and phone calls, catching up with players in his National Team pool, watching U-15 and U-16 Girl’s National Team training sessions at the Home Depot Center and starting the search for a U-20 Women’s National Team head coach, Ryan has been formulating and refining his own thoughts on the direction he wants to take the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Coming off a highly successful four games at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, where Ryan led the team to four wins and the tournament title, he jumps cleats first into the ever-increasing competitive atmosphere of the women’s international game.
Now, Ryan will be charged with keeping the U.S. at the top of the world. No one is saying it will be an easy task, but he is looking forward to an exciting and, yes, fun challenge.
“I’m looking forward to building off our success in Portugal and continuing to develop this young U.S. team,” said Ryan. “One of the most important aspects of developing a new team is building chemistry between our talented young players mixed with some of our very talented experienced. I’m looking forward to our training and games as that is vital to developing chemistry and helping accelerate the development of the young players.”
Ryan takes over during one of the first “transition” years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, as some of the world’s most recognizable and accomplished players have retired.
How do you replace a Julie Foudy, a Mia Hamm, a Joy Fawcett?
You don’t says Ryan.
“You don’t replace those women because they are each unique and outstanding soccer players in their own way,” said Ryan. “However, we are in the process of building a new team with players who will bring their unique qualities to the games. I am confident that these players have the talent to enjoy the same kind of success experienced by the previous generation who have stepped aside.”
Some may say Ryan’s trip to the top of the U.S. coaching ranks was meteoric, but in fact, he is a 15-year veteran of the Division I women’s college game and was one of the country’s most respected collegiate coaches before becoming the U.S. Women’s National Team Staff Coach for the Western Region in 2002 while taking on some scouting duties for the U.S. women. He joined former head coach April Heinrichs’ staff as full-time assistant in 2004 heading into the Olympic Residency Camp and helped build a 28-2-4 record, the best ever in a calendar year.
That run also included an Olympic gold medal in Athens, Greece, an invaluable experience on Ryan’s coaching journey.
“It really began two years ago when I was scouting for the U.S. Women’s National team at the South American qualifying in Brazil, the Asian qualifying in Thailand and in Europe,” said Ryan. “That experience of scouting really helped me understand how to be successful at the international level. Being part of April’s staff was also great experience because I got to participate in the day-to-day planning of a residency program to prepare the team for the Olympics.
“My role at the Olympics was to scout our opponents and make recommendations on how to compete against each team, so it gave me confidence and a feel for how to match up and defeat international opponents. To enjoy great success by winning the gold at the Olympics was a phenomenal end to that experience.”
Ryan is blessed with a large pool of talented young players, some who have proven themselves in the international arena, and numerous others who are anxiously waiting for their first shot at the full Women’s National Team.
With such a large group of young talent, perhaps this is the perfect time to mold a new team with a new attitude and new style. Although the main goal remains the same: win and win a lot.
“The exciting part of coaching is taking new and young players and mixing them with veterans and creating a wonderful and successful product on the field,” said Ryan. “My goal is to play a very aggressive and dynamic attacking style of soccer and I believe we have the players to do that.”
Ryan is the first coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history to have played professionally in the NASL, logging six years in the league including five with the Chicago Sting. He feels his playing days as a professional will help in coaching an increasingly professional group of U.S. Women’s National Team players.
“Professional soccer is a very difficult and hard world with real consequences for winning and losing, just like there is for success and failure with the Women’s National Team,” said Ryan. “My whole playing career depended on my ability to succeed in an extremely challenging environment. I believe the environment of the U.S. team is increasingly competitive in that sense, as there are more talented teams around the world and more players competing for every spot, but I believe our players will embrace this challenge.”
Let the fun begin.