Head Coach: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team
Born: Jan. 27, 1977, in Kent, Washington
Hometown: Bellevue, Washington
Michelle French was hired as head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team on Feb. 20, 2013. A former U.S. international at the senior and youth levels, and a former professional player in the WUSA, French joined U.S. Soccer as the first full-time head coach for the U-20 age group.
In 2015, French spent the year identifying her player pool and forming her core of players to enter the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in December of that year in the Guatemala, which also serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea. The team cruised to the Qualifying tournament title, punching its ticket to the World Cup along the way.
French, 38, came to U.S. Soccer after having coached at all levels of girls’ youth soccer. She served as a scout for U.S. Club Soccer since 2009, was a coach in the Washington Girls’ Olympic Development Program and served as an assistant coach for various U.S. Youth National Teams at the U-14, U-15, U-17 and U-18 levels since 2005.
She also has experience in the college game, serving as an assistant at UCLA in 2002 and as a volunteer assistant at the University of Washington in 2005.
She has worked with the Eastside Football Club since 2005, coaching up to three girls’ teams at a time. She also coached FC Portland Academy from 1998-2004.
In the summer of 2012, she was the head coach of the Seattle Sounders Women in the W-League, a team that included U.S. WNT players, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo.
As a player, French played for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1997-2001, earning 14 caps with 11 starts. She won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics. She was also called in to attend a portion of the Residency Training Camp for the 2004 Olympics.
She was first called into the full National Team for the two matches against England on the 1997 Victory Tour presented by Nike, and she earned her first cap against England in her home stadium at the University of Portland on May 11, 1997. She had two assists in her career and played her last game for the USA on July 3, 2001, during a 1-0 win over Canada in Blaine, Minn.
French was also a member of the Residency Training for the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup and is one of the most-capped players in U.S. history at the U-21 level. She played for the USA U-21s from 1994-1999, the latter few as an overage player, and captained the U-21s from 1997-1999.
She captained the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Nordic Cup teams, helping the U.S. to a championship in 1997 in Denmark, while scoring two goals; to second place in 1998 in Holland; and to another title in 1999 in Iceland. She was a starter on the U-20 team at the Nordic Cup in Sweden in the summer of 1996.
French started her professional career with the Washington Freedom of the WUSA in 2001, where she was co-captain, and played two years for the San Jose CyberRays.
She continued her career at the semi-professional level, playing for the Seattle Sounders Women in the W-League in 2004 and from 2006-2009. In 2004, she led the W-League in assists and was named First-Team All-League and First-Team All-Conference in each season she played.
French was a highly decorated collegiate player at the University of Portland from 1995-1998 where she was a four-year starter and started every game she played. As a senior, she was a First-Team NSCAA All-American, an All-Far West Region selection and a MAC Hermann Award Finalist. She was also All-WCC First-Team and a WWC All-Academic Team selection. She was also the WCC Freshman of the Year in 1995 and a Soccer America All-Freshman Team selection. As a junior, her 14 assists were the second-best season total at the time to Shannon MacMillan.
During her time with the Pilots, she helped lead the team to three NCAA Final Fours under legendary head coach Clive Charles, whom she lists as one of her greatest inspirations, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology.
At John F. Kennedy High School, she was a two-time Parade All-American, an NSCAA All-American and a USA Today Top-25 recruit and helped her school win state titles as a freshman and a senior. She was the team’s leading scorer and MVP all four years and finished her prep career with 69 goals and 75 assists. She also lettered in track and field, softball and basketball.
French also coached high school soccer at Mercer Island High School in 2006 and Sunset High School in Portland from 2003-2004. In October of 2008, French was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and made a full recovery.
French holds a USSF National “A” Coaching License.