“We intend to be thoughtful and thorough in our evaluation and our selection … Our aim is to have our new coach in place by the end of summer, although it’s possible that club circumstances could impact the timeline.”
It’s been nearly one month to the day since the U.S. Soccer Federation named Matt Crocker the new Sporting Director, and while he doesn’t officially assume the role until August 2 he has been very active in his two highest priorities: supporting the work of the USWNT ahead of the Women’s World Cup and the search for the next USMNT head coach. After visiting Chicago for the first time, he spoke with ussoccer.com about his plans and progress.
ussoccer.com: You had the opportunity to visit Chicago for the first time this past week. What was the experience like?
Matt Crocker: Very enjoyable. I met Oguchi Onyewu last month in Washington D.C. and have been communicating with him on a daily basis, so it was nice to go into the office and meet with a lot of the other staff for the first time. The Chicago Fire were kind enough to host us at their match against Atlanta so we also had the opportunity to meet their group along with Carlos Bocanegra. My wife and son were with me as we were looking for places to live and also getting a feel for the city. I’ll be moving here full-time as of early August, so it was a great visit and I’m excited for what’s to come.
ussoccer.com: What were your first impressions during your short time here?
MC: I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with more of the sporting staff, but also with a number of people from other departments as well. The staff is fantastic and everyone was really welcoming, passionate and ready to get to work.
ussoccer.com: You have previously said your two priorities are supporting the USWNT ahead of the World Cup and hiring the next USMNT head coach. Where are you in the process on both of those?
MC: I’ve been able to talk to Kate Markgraf and Vlatko Andonovski in the past few weeks, and I was also able to meet with Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn. I’m here to support their work in any way I can as they finalize their preparations for the camp in July before heading to Auckland to start the World Cup. Vlatko has some tough decisions on the final roster, and I know he and Kate are following all of the players in NWSL closely. We’ll continue to keep in touch as much as possible in the coming two months.
One of things we accomplished this past week was confirming the framework of the hiring process for the USMNT head coach. With the approval of Cindy Parlow Cone and JT Batson, we have a strategy in place that includes having a diverse group of voices involved in the process. We have identified the qualities and characteristics we think are necessary for the next coach and are moving along with initial conversations and outreach.
ussoccer.com: Have you narrowed down the list of candidates and/or conducted any interviews?
MC: What we have is a list of candidates who based on our initial research we think will fit the profile. We already have had a number of conversations with some of the candidates. In some instances a candidate may hold a current position, in which case we must be very respectful to their clubs and always make sure any communication begins with them. Our next steps will be to conduct more thorough interviews and continue what we have outlined as a robust evaluation process.
ussoccer.com: You initially indicated that you wanted to have a decision made by the end of the summer. Are you planning to hire someone before the Nations League Final or the Gold Cup, or will it be after?
MC: As I have said, we think this decision is critical not only for the next three years but also for the legacy that this coach will leave on the future of the program. We intend to be thoughtful and thorough in our evaluation and our selection. The plan is to conduct a series of interviews in June and narrow down the list of candidates. From there, we will engage the finalists in another evaluation activity. Our aim is to have our new coach in place by the end of summer, although it’s possible that club circumstances could impact the timeline.
ussoccer.com: In the meantime, the USMNT is getting ready to defend both the Concacaf Nations League and the Gold Cup titles. What have been your observations of the current staff?
MC: I think Anthony Hudson, B.J. Callaghan and the rest of the staff have done a fantastic job keeping the program moving forward. There has been no drop in standard, and as you’ve seen several players who had a choice to represent more than one country have chosen the United States during their tenure and Anthony and his staff deserve tremendous credit for that. That speaks to the work they have done, and we are confident in their ability to lead this group in the tournaments this summer.