Big WoSo week: USWNT hires manager, NWSL final set after upsets

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Nov. 6, 2023

There is a lot going on, so let’s just get right into it.

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Emma Hayes is poised to become the new head coach of the U.S. women’s national team. It just two weeks ago when it was looking like the leading finalists were OL Reign coach Laura Harvey, Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson and Juventus Women head coach Joe Montemurro.

I lamented then that Hayes did not appear to be in the running. So Saturday’s developments were certainly interesting. The Equalizer and Backheeled appeared to be first with the news that Hayes is in the final stages of being hired by U.S. Soccer.

Chelsea confirmed that she was stepping down at the end of the Women’s Super League season.

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Here’s a bit about Hayes: She has won 14 major trophies since taking over Chelsea in 2012, including six WSL titles — with a chance to win a seventh WSL title before she departs. 

She has led the team to a pair of doubles and one domestic treble. Additionally, she has been named the FA WSL manager of the year six times and she inducted into the WSL Hall of Fame in 2021.

The one knock is that she doesn’t have senior national team experience. But Harvey and Montemurro didn’t, either.

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The NWSL final is set. Gotham FC will play OL Reign. The Thorn and the Wave head into the offseason.

After the first game was scoreless in regulation, Gotham’s Katie Stengel scored a gorgeous extra-time goal. Portland GK Shelby Hogan couldn’t do much to stop it. It was a tough game, with downpours throughout. The Thorns will need to take a hard look at what happened to the team at the end of the season. And they’re going to be sold. Oof.

In the second, Veronica Latsko’s second-half goal was all OL Reign needed to defeat the Wave 1-0 and earn a spot in the title match Saturday night at Snapdragon. Heartbreaking for the Wave to lose out on the opportunity to play for a championship at their home stadium.

On the other hand, Ali Krieger and Megan Rapinoe will both play in a championship to wrap up their careers. Storybook ending for both.

As always, Susie Rantz recapped both games for the AP here.

Hey, it’s that time of year again. The College Cup is about to start. Here are the automatic bids, courtesy of the NCAA. The selection show is Monday, after I’ll have already filed this. You can watch on at 4 p.m. ET.

I’d like to make one men’s soccer aside that has WoSo connections. The Portland Timbers are pointed to name Phil Neville as coach. He was coach of Inter Miami after coaching England’s women’s team from 2018-2021.

I think some folks in this space remember Neville’s tweets denigrating women, and also the sick post about battering his wife. He claimed that was just a figure of speech, an English way of saying he beat her in a sporting competition. But even in England the term “battered wife” relates to domestic violence. Being generous, perhaps he’s just monumentally ignorant or has no self awareness. Is that what you want in a coach?

On top of that, he’s just statistically a poor coach. Any success he had with England’s women could be attributed to to the talent of the players on the field. And his time at Inter Miami speaks for itself.

I’m told this hiring is basically done. That makes me sad as someone who has covered the team back even when they weren’t MLS. I remember walking by Providence Park back in the mid-2000’s and peering at a soccer match through the fence on the street above. I’d never seen passion like that for a soccer team in the United States — and certainly not a second-tier team.


A few links are here but I’ll be honest, most of the links I collected came before the results of the semifinals! So I threw a bunch out. But I thought many of the following stories went be on the basic preview fodder.

Jeff Kassouf writes about Gotham’s ascent for ESPN.

Steph Yang wrote about Naomi Girma for The Athletic.

 Angel City list the interim tag off Becki Tweed, name her the coach.

Nice story here on Jenna Nighswonger from CBS Sports.

The Insider’s Meredith Cash has an adorable compilation of Ali Krieger’s photos across her career.

Jill Ellis still wants to win, from the NY Times (should be a gift link!).

The Olympics site did a very thorough compilation of Christine Sinclair’s honors.

Sophie Lawson for ESPN on what folks can expect from Hayes.

Just Women’s Sports reported a while ago that Gustavsson was in all likelihood out of the running.

A nice story on how the USWNT honored 2 of its deaf players in Utah.

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FIVE AT THE IX: Sam Coffey and Sophia Smith

Before the Thorns’ loss, Sam Coffey and Sophia Smith spoke to the media. There’s no denying Coffey is one of the best in the NWSL, and the two spoke about both being nominated for MVP. Here’s my really shaky video from the presser.

BTW, here are the finalists for the 2023 NWSL awards, in case you missed it:

Most Valuable Player, presented by Bud Light
Sam Coffey (POR)
Sophia Smith (POR)
Debinha (KC Current)
Naomi Girma (SD)
Kerolin (NC Courage)

Defender of the Year:
Naomi Girma (SD)
Sarah Gorden (LA)
Ali Krieger (Gotham FC)
Kaleigh Kurtz (NC Courage)
Sam Staab (WAS)

Goalkeeper of the Year:
Jane Campbell (HOU)
Katie Lund (LOU)
Kailen Sheridan (SD)

Rookie of the Year, presented by Ally:
Messiah Bright (ORL)
Jenna Nighswonger (NJNY)
Alyssa Thompson (LA)

Coach of the Year:
Juan Carlos Amorós (NJNY)
Casey Stoney (SD)
Becki Tweed (LA)

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
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Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson