What’s next for the United States women’s national team? While the ‘Who?’ questions will dominate the conversation around the coaching search, the what is the important part after the team’s worst-ever performance at a World Cup.
Penalty-shootout defeat to Sweden in the Round of 16 may have been unfortunate, but it came on the back of a disappointing group stage, and two years on from an underwhelming Olympic showing in Tokyo. If the US is to return to its historic high standards, the need for change is evident. Vlatko Andonovski will not continue as coacha fate that was obvious upon the team’s exit.
What should that change look like? Here are a few suggestions.
Players first, system second
When planning ahead, the national team selection should focus on getting the best out of its key players. Rather than committing to a specific system of play, it must first consider the qualities of its most talented personnel and work back from there.
Naomi Girma has nailed down a starting position at centerback, and that won’t change anytime soon. Nor should it: she has been exceptional for club and country over the last 18 months, handling a rapid ascent with remarkable composure. Sophia Smith has starred for the Portland Thorns as a striker at the same time, and that should be her role for the United States. Catarina Macario has demonstrated her talent in Europe with Lyon and in friendlies for the US. She is already one of the world’s best playmakers. And, like Smith and Girma, she is only 23 years old, meaning she will be in her prime come the next World Cup in 2027.
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