England’s Sarina Wegman is the undisputed best coach in women’s soccer – but she’s a long-term USWNT candidate

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: England coach Sarina Wegman celebrates after the team won 3-1 and progressed to the final after the 2023 Australia-New Zealand Women's World Cup semi-final match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia on August 16, 2023 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sarina Wiegmann celebrates after England beat Australia 3-1 to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup Final on August 16, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Mark Metcalfe/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sarina Wegmanfairy taleThe rise to the top of football began as a lifesaver.

In the fall of 2016, she was 47 years old, an assistant coach for the faltering Netherlands women’s team at Euro 2017. To many across the sport, just seven years ago, her name was unknown.

Now he is on the tip of tongues from Australia to England to the United States. Wegman is the undisputed best coach in international women’s football. It’s 90 minutes away from World Cup brilliance. Which The most sought-after candidate for the US Women’s National Team coaching positionall because she grabbed one chance and never looked back.

She stepped into her first major national team coaching job in the emergency. Holland sacked Arjan van der Laan in late December 2016, and promoted Wegman, first on a temporary basis, then on a permanent basis. She had six months to prepare a frustrated team for the European Championship. You made it into a dynamic and adaptable unit that won these Euros. Two years later—and just four years after the Netherlands appeared in their first-ever Women’s World Cup final—they reached the 2019 World Cup Final. Two years later, Wijman made the jump to England, where her Lionesses Earn 2022 eurosShe confirmed her status as the best female sports coach.

So former Netherlands national team captain Wegman entered the 2023 Women’s World Cup with little to prove.

However, in He led England to their first World Cup final (Sunday, 6 a.m. ET, Fox), added to her fast-growing legend — and proved she’s everything Outgoing USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski has not been.

But no, she is not the favorite to become the next USWNT President. She’s in a similarly attractive job, with A.J The contract is until 2025and, with the FA, determined to keep them “for a very long time”.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham told reporters on Thursday that the FA would “100%” reject any attempts to poach Wegman – and the past two summers have shown why.

Weigman’s impeccable record

Andonofsky’s USWNT failed, in part, because he was Inflexible and predictable. Wiegman, after riding line-up one and line-up through last summer’s Euros, “was torn[ped] Upgrading the rules of the game to keep the lionesses in the lead”, as It was put by a British newspaperWith the new, fluid formations of a manager who has given England the element of surprise.

In other words, I did what almost every major international manager does. I turned England into atactical chameleon. “

She realized, after losing three starters to pre-World Cup injuries, that her classic 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 was faltering. After losing for the fourth time in the second group match in England, she flipped to a 3-4-1-2 formation that enabled striker Lauren James and increased personnel. When James was shown a red card and then suspended in the round of 16, it became more of a 3-5-2 after that.

With midfielder Ella Toon returning to the starting lineup, replacing James, England dominated the semi-final against Australia. With winger Lauren Hemp terrorizing the Australian defense as the second striker, England beat the co-hosts with their best performance of the tournament.

Wiegman’s interpersonal skills were also celebrated. She mixes a semi-rigorous management style – she was once a PE teacher during her playing career – with family warmth away from the field. She is demanding, but quirky. She informed the players of their place in her squad for UEFA Euro 2022 Hand them a real golden ticket It reads: “Congratulations! You’re going to the Euros!” But she’s also not afraid to cut these players or the bench when necessary – like she did to Netherlands captain Mandy van den Berg during the group stage at Euro 2017.

I have, admittedly, had a bit of luck this month. They needed penalties to beat Nigeria in the round of 16 and a Colombian foul one run later. But her track record — winner of Euro 2017, qualifier for the 2019 World Cup, winner of Euro 2022, and qualifier for the 2023 World Cup — is unquestionable. The only blip was in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Olympics, when the Netherlands lost to the United States on penalties. She’s clearly mastered the international game – and US Soccer, even if she can’t hire her, should take that into account.

Does Weigman even want a USWNT job?

When USWNT General Manager Kate Markgraf entered the recent hunt to coach the team, in 2019, her most obvious candidate came from the soccer club. she He mentioned four of them publicly while working for ESPN, shortly before the start of play in US Soccer. Andonofsky, Laura Harvey W since shame Paul Riley all coached in the National Women’s Soccer League. Mark Krikorian and other reported candidates have worked in American colleges — where then-outgoing USWNT head coach Jill Ellis made her name.

Andonofsky and Harvey seemed like the frontrunners all alongAnd, in an earlier era, this focus on local club coaches might have made sense—because the USWNT operated much like a club team, meeting regularly for extended training camps. The national team was the player’s primary job.

but Women’s football has evolved in recent years. Players now spend the vast majority of their time with professional clubs; The USWNT meets less frequently. The game has moved in the direction of men’s football, as it is widely accepted that a club coach and a national team coach perform completely different jobs. One can choose a system, acquire the right players for it, and implement it day in and day out. The other is working with a limited group of players and much less time to actually train it.

In retrospect, this may have been one of American football’s biggest mistakes in the 2019 quest; Andonovsky never coached at the international level.

It should form the research plan for 2023 to replace it.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: England coach Sarina Wegman congratulates her players at the random gathering after the team won 3-1 and qualified for the final after the 2023 Australia-New Zealand Women's World Cup semi-final match between Australia and New Zealand.  England at Stadium Australia on August 16, 2023 in Sydney/Gadegal, Australia.  (Photo by Alex Buntling - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sarina Wiegmann is the first coach to lead two different countries to a World Cup final. (Photo by Alex Buntling – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Wiegman is the leading example of a national team coach, but it is unclear if she even wants to get a job in the United States. England’s player pool is just as good, if not better. The Football Association is richer. Her chances at major tournaments – with the Euros as well as the 2024 Olympics – are greater. It seems unlikely that Wegman will force her way out of the contract (which the FA is keen to extend soon) to move her family thousands of miles away. Her only association with the United States is a short playing stint at the University of North Carolina.

But she is not the only female coach who has proven herself in the national team. And a lot of others – maybe Tony Gustafsson, just He led Australia to the World Cup semi-finalsHe won two World Cups as Ellis’ assistant. – he will certainly be interested.

The USWNT job remains one of the best coaching jobs in women’s soccer. American players gathered, while It may no longer be the best in the classresidue one of The best. The resources and cultural acceptance of women’s football is unparalleled. And although the short term future seems fragile, the medium and long term include the 2027 World Cup on home soil and the 2028 Olympic Games certainly on home soil.

So there will be no shortage of interest. There should also be no shortage of money. US Soccer paid its men’s national team coach, Greg Berhalter, a base salary of more than $1.3 million, according to tax returns. I paid Donofsky only about $400,000 a year. She will likely be willing to bridge that gap to attract the USWNT candidate of her choice.

It’s unclear if it would pay enough to land Wiegman — or if Wiegman has a price. Her candidacy seems to be rooted only in general speculation.

But it’s worth noting at least, a few hours later The news of Andonovsky’s resignation Breaking, hopeful speculation growing, Bullingham, chief executive of the FA, went on record to express his commitment to Weigman.

“We’re huge fans of her,” Bullingham said. “We think she’s happy, and we’d like to continue working with her for a long time.”

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