U-23 USWNT: Matt Potter Named Head Coach; B.J. Snow Leaves U.S. Soccer

On Thursday, January 9th, U.S. Soccer announced a pair of related staffing changes:

  1. The hiring of former University of Oklahoma women’s soccer head coach Matt Potter as the new head coach of the Under-23 United States Women’s National Team, and
  2. The departure of B.J. Snow, who most recently helmed the U-23 USWNT while also serving as the Director of Talent Identification for the USWNT.

These changes follow the recent hiring of Laura Harvey as the new head coach of the U-20 USWNT after December’s surprise departure of Mark Carr, coincidentally, for the vacancy created by Potter back in November (SoonerSports.com).

Potter, who has youth international experience playing for England’s U-19 Men’s National Team, has 19 years of NCAA head coaching experience:  11 years at Washington State and 8 years at the University of Oklahoma.  During the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Potter served as an opponent scout for the USWNT.

In related news, earlier this week, Kate Markgraf confirmed to The Athletic (subscription required) that U-17 USWNT head coach Tracey Kevins renewed her contract in early December.

Also, in that The Athletic interview, Markgraf intimated that she has found a temporary coach for the U-18 USWNT, at least for their next camp, which should take place this month.

SUMMARY:  Three Slots Filled, Five Remain Unfilled

After this week’s hirings, the three most important USWNT youth teams now have permanent head coaches for 2020.  That leaves four ‘required’ preparatory youth national teams without a full-time head coach:   Most importantly, the U-18 WNT and U-15 GNT, who will be next cycle’s U-20 WNT and U-17 WNT, respectively.

After that, the next important age group is the introductory U-14 GNT, which may participate in this year’s CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship, like last cycle’s U-14 GNT.

The final ‘required’ YNT is the U-16 GNT, but as that age group’s primary tournament is four years out, development of the top players in the U-16 birth year (2004 for this cycle) can be done within the U-17 USWNT.

Additionally, there is one ‘optional’ YNT:  The U-19 WNT, which is designed for continuing the development of the second tier players from the previous cycle’s U-17 WNT (i.e., those players who are not regular members of the current cycle’s U-20 WNT).

So, to summarize, here are the official youth USWNTs, ordered by cut-off age, with the name of their current head coach (if applicable):

  • U-23 WNT:  Matt Potter (1st year)
  • U-20 WNT:  Laura Harvey (1st year)
  • U-19 WNT:  Open (Priority:  Low)
  • U-18 WNT:  Open (Priority:  High)
  • U-17 WNT:  Tracey Kevins (2nd year; previously U-15 WNT head coach last cycle)
  • U-16 GNT:  Open (Priority:  Medium)
  • U-15 GNT:  Open (Priority:  High)
  • U-14 GNT:  Open (Priority: Medium)

(For the official U.S. Soccer explanations of their YNT age-level teams, see the most current USWNT media guide.)

That Chicago Residency Requirement:  One significant challenge in filling the youth national team head coach positions, on the women’s and men’s sides, is U.S. Soccer’s prematurely enacted “Chicago Policy”requiring all core coaches to be based in Chicago.  For more details, see this recent article by Caitlin Murray (sports.yahoo.com).

External Links (U.S. Soccer):

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