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U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker provided an update on the search for the next U.S. women's national team head coach after the men's team's friendly against Oman Tuesday night. Former head coach Vlatko Andonoski stepped down after the team's early round of 16 exit in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. Crocker tabbed Twila Kilgore as the interim manager, who was part of Andonovski's staff, as the federation searches for candidates.

After the U.S. men's national team's 4-0 defeat against Oman, Crocker provided an update on the ongoing search providing a timeline and hints of what's next for the USWNT for the remainder of the calendar year

Kilgore to stay on through October friendlies

The USWNT is set to face South Africa this month as they celebrate the retirements of Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe. Kilgore has named her first roster, with 27 players, a larger list of athletes for post-World Cup friendlies than the typical 23-person World Cup roster. With a quick turnaround to the 2024 Paris Olympics, Crocker stated that Kilgore will stay on for the remaining international windows as he gets into the search. 

"In an ideal world, we'd like to be in a position for the December camp to have the new head coach in place then," he said on TNT. 

Crocker's recent statement may indicate the return of the identification camp for the first time since 2019. Andonovski was brought onboard in October 2019, after former Jill Ellis stepped away from the team. One of his first camps was an ID camp, and being held much later in the calendar window, primarily included some NWSL players and college players. 

Search process

Crocker also emphasized the quick timeline for the USWNT and is drawing parallels between his recent process in hiring USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. While there has been plenty of interest in the role, Crocker and the federation are on a short timetable if a hire is to be made after the October friendlies. 

"I think if you have a really robust process, when you come to the final decision-making, then you've got all the information that you need to make the right decision. Obviously, I'm accountable for these big decisions, and when I go to [the USSF] board and present the appropriate candidate, I think is right, I'll do that with an evidence-based approach.

Looking at the disappointment of the World Cup - which we all were really disappointed [in] - and being able to spend a lot of time post the World Cup chatting with the diverse pool of players that we've got, and the staff to hopefully capture some of the learnings -- there's some key inputs that we slightly tweaked, in terms of the tactics of what we want the team to look like going forward, and what type of leader that we want to bring into that environment as well is going to be key."

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Qualities for the next head coach

Crocker also laid out qualities the federation will be looking for in their next head coach, and didn't shy away from the areas Andonovski was criticized for during the World Cup. The sporting director touched on the lack of substitutions and in-game adjustments, the desire to have a signature style, and the ability to develop players.

"If you look tactically, we already know that we have got a great group of athletic women, and a huge pool to pick from," he said.

"Things like our ability to transition really, really quickly is a key strength. Defensively, we've been really strong. I guess what we'd like to do is maybe to develop more [of a] possession-based style, and to have maybe a plan B. A coach that has got the ability to make in-game changes in key moments to be able to improve the performance of the team is going to be key.

Obviously a coach that is a development coach, so, a coach that can integrate young players into the team is going to be important. But then probably the final attribute is going to be the human skills, the leadership skills.
So, a strong communicator, someone who can build fantastic relationships, and someone who can drive the program forward."

What's next

The USWNT will face South Africa in a pair of friendlies in the Midwest in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois beginning on Sept. 21. Kilgore and the squad will then head to the west coast Oct 26. through Oct. 29 to face Colombia in Sandy, Utah, and San Diego, California.