The next 10 months for the U.S. Women’s National Team are sure to be fun-filled and exciting. They will feature numerous games against top opponents at home and abroad, and if all goes as planned at October’s Concacaf World Cup Qualifying tournament, a trip to France next summer for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
During the early part of this time span, U.S. Soccer will make one of the most unique and important hires in team history when a U.S. Women’s National Team General Manager is brought on board for the first time.
On the heels of the hiring of U.S. legend Earnie Stewart as the MNT GM, U.S. Soccer is now focused on an efficient yet realistic timeline for the hiring of the WNT GM.
The role of General Manager is being designed to drive and develop the long-term success of the WNT program. Due to the timing in the World Cup cycle for the U.S. Women, the new GM will come on board in an observation and support role for U.S. head coach Jill Ellis and her staff, with the long-term goals of continuing to mold and guide the culture and environment of the senior National Team.
“As this position is focused on the long-term future of the Women’s National Team, the GM will of course respect and support the existing World Cup plan that Jill Ellis has made for the team,” Chief Soccer Officer Ryan Mooney said. “Should things go well at qualifying – and we certainly expect them to – the time between the start date for the new GM and the World Cup next summer will be an important period for this person to experience the dynamics of the team and program firsthand. Following this observation period, the GM will be prepared and equipped to manage the program moving forward.”
The hiring of the General Managers came into focus last December when the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors approved the new technical leadership positions for the Men’s and Women’s National Teams.
Stewart was hired on June 6 and officially came aboard on August 1.
“Obviously, the Men’s and Women’s National Teams are at different points in their cycles and histories, but our goal is to get a women’s GM in place as soon as possible while making sure we take the appropriate amount of time to get the correct person with the proper skill set and personality for the job,” Chief Sport Development Officer Nico Romeijn said. “This is definitely a unique job in the world of women’s soccer and we’re excited about the process.”
The timeline for the filling of the WNT position will unfold over the fall and into the winter. For the last few months, U.S. Soccer has been compiling a list of qualified domestic and foreign candidates. In September, the job will be officially posted online and the process of proactively identifying potential candidates will come to fruition.
Over October and November, the process will move to pre-screening the applicant pool, which will include phone interviews with up to 10 people.
In-person interviews will be conducted over December and January with the goal of talking with approximately six of the top candidates. After that, a second round of in-person interviews will commence with the top two or three candidates before a final recommendation for the hire is made to the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors.
“We want a person who understands the history of our program and what has made the U.S. Women so successful, so we can continue to focus on and maximize those strengths,” Mooney said. “But we also need someone who understands the environment that has led to the exponential technical growth worldwide of the women’s game over the last 10 years and how we can use the resources and the advantages we have in our country to continue to be the world-wide leader in women’s soccer.”
The search committee to fill the WNT GM position is made up of former U.S. WNT player, Olympic gold medalist and former Women’s Sports Foundation President Angela Hucles, who is also a member of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, former WNBA President, current Big East Commissioner and U.S. Soccer Board of Directors member Val Ackerman, Chris Ahrens, a former member of U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team and current Chair of the U.S. Soccer Athlete Council, U.S. Soccer Secretary General/CEO Dan Flynn, Romeijn and Mooney.
The primary focus of the eventual hire will be on the senior WNT with the same core responsibilities as those of the MNT GM:
- Continue to foster an environment – both day-to-day and long-term – for the head coach and the Women’s National Team to continue its historic success.
- Work with the head coach to ensure the team’s style of play, team tactical principles and key qualities are being implemented within the squad while continuing to evolve with the growth of the women’s game world-wide.
- Work with the head coach and staff to continue to evolve the principles for a player profile for each position based on the style of play, team tactical principles and key qualities.
- Work with the head coach and staff to create positional depth charts based on the player profile, accounting for players’ current and potential ability to compete at the highest levels in the world.
- Along with coaching staff, Youth WNT coaches and scouts, evaluate and monitor players coming up through the Youth National Team programs to ensure the best talent is identified and cultivated.
- Communicate and work with the Sport Development Departments to drive technical alignment and integration, including Coaching Education, Player Development, High Performance, Talent Identification and Youth National Teams.
- In conjunction with the U.S. WNT head coach, work closely with NWSL clubs, coaches and general managers to further develop the symbiotic relationship between club and country with the goal of continuing to maximize the development of players for the WNT pool while also continuing to help fuel the growth of the league.