I don’t see the press release at USSoccer.com yet, but there was a second announcement today in addition to Pia Sundhage’s roster for the Olympics. Here’s the key excerpt:
Following the FIFA Women’s World Cups for the Under-17 and Under-20 age levels this coming fall, the head coaching positions for those teams will become full-time for the first time. In addition, U.S. Soccer will hire another full-time coach whose main focus will be on enhancing the player development environment for young players from coast to coast.
So before today’s game against China, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati held a press conference with women’s technical director April Heinrichs and women’s development director Jill Ellis.
Does this sound boring so far? In some respects, it’s not a huge announcement. But these little announcements — like the hiring of Heinrichs and Ellis a while ago — are adding up to something, and the press conference led to a wide-ranging talk on women’s soccer.
So in the 20 minutes before this game starts, I’ll try to sum up:
– Heinrichs and Ellis say they’re trying to shift the focus of U.S. development from physical and psychological to tactical and technical.
– Will we see the women duplicate the U.S. U17 men’s Bradenton residency? Heinrichs and Ellis weren’t enthusiastic about that. Heinrichs says it’s a good way to win a U17 World Cup, but she and Ellis want to cast a wider net for players at that age for future national team development.
– Heinrichs says an 18-year-old American recently had to choose between college and a lucrative deal with Lyon in France.
– Might we see a national B team to keep more players in active international play? Gulati thinks it’s possible and said Heinrichs once drew up some similar plans.
– The big news you’ve already seen us tweet: In 30-45 days, U.S. Soccer will convene a meeting of various stakeholders in the women’s game: USL, former WPS teams … and yes, MLS, either teams or league staff or both. (I forgot to ask if Dan Borislow was invited.)
– An interesting WPS post-mortem piece: Gulati says U.S. Soccer offered 12 months ago to help WPS with league administration. They were turned down.
I’m thinking regular readers here might have some thoughts. Have at it.