By Harry Awurumibe
The adage that said “a prophet is not without honour in his own land” may be true afterall as the Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum’s dream to manage a country with a better pedigree like the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) has evaporated like the early morning dews as his name was missing in the list of five coaches likey to replace Vlatko Andonovski who has parted ways with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).
Andonovski who took Team USA to the just concluded FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand was last week shown the exit door after he led the four-time world champions to crash out in the Round of 16, the worst performance of the Americans in the history of the biggest women’s football competition in the world.
Now, five names have emerged as potential candidates to replace Andonovski but unfortunately Waldrum’s name was conspicuously missing even as there are indications that his romance with Nigeria has ended secretly as it started.
Prompt News has exclusively gathered that USSF hierarchy has been speaking to five gaffer prospects for the vacant coaching position including Tony Gustavsson, the Matildas of Australia head coach who many in United States believe feels like a somewhat natural hire for the USWNT. He led Australia to finish in the Top Four position at the last World Cup.
A long time assistant coach for the USA under two separate head coaches (Pia Sundhage and Jill Ellis), Gustavsson was a key member of the coaching staff for a long time. So long, in fact, that he designed the set piece plays that helped Carli Lloyd score twice during the 2015 World Cup final.
The one thing Gustavsson lacked in earlier USWNT coaching searches was head coaching experience. Since 2019, though, he took the helm for Australia, coaching the Matildas to their first-ever World Cup semi-final appearance.
Another prospect is Lorne Donaldson who led Jamaican Reggae Girlz” to the Round of 16 in Australia and New Zealand. It was said that Donaldson might be a sleeper pick for the USWNT head coach, but he would make a lot of sense. His connection to Sophia Smith, Jaelin Howell and Mallory Swanson- all of whom he helped develop at the youth level is intriguing, and his success with Jamaica despite limited resources even moreso.
One big knock against Donaldson is his limited experience, having only coached at the developmental club level and now for the Jamaican national team.
But he is worth consideration, especially after leading Jamaica to its first-ever knockout round at the 2023 World Cup.
Also, Emma Hayes, the current Chelsea women’s football team of England is said to have been contacted. Hayes has found immense success with Chelsea in the Women’s Super League, and she has been discussed before as a possible coach for England.
She is familiar with the U.S. system, having coached at the collegiate level and for the Chicago Red Stars from 2008 to 2010. And since 2012, she has built Chelsea into a powerhouse program in the WSL.
Recently, Hayes signed USWNT star midfielder Catarina Macario and prospect Mia Fishel, and she has long coached Australian star Sam Kerr, so she would clearly have some pull with players on the team. Whether or not she wants to leave what she’s building at Chelsea, however, remains to be seen.
Aside the high-profile trio mentioned above, Lluís Cortés has been reported to has already been linked to the USWNT as a possible replacement for Andonovski.
The former head coach of FC Barcelona Femení, he is stepping down as coach of the Ukrainian women’s national team at the end of August upon the expiration of his contract.
A source said Cortes had been in conversations with some National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) clubs, but Relevo has reported that he also has been contacted by US Soccer chiefs.
Under his tutelage, Barcelona won the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League title. The team finished as runners-up in 2018-19 and twice won the Copa de la Reina.
The fifth person to be contacted is Laura Harvey, the lone NWSL manager on this list solely because the USWNT needs a coach with quality international experience.
It is said the OL Reign head coach has that experience – and with the USWNT because she has worked as a head coach at the developmental levels while also serving as an assistant coach to the senior team from 2020 through 2021.
She also has experience as a youth assistant in the England national team system. The three-time NWSL Coach of the Year, also won six trophies while coaching at Arsenal women’s football club.
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From her time as manager of the U-20 U.S. national team, she knows many of the younger players who are coming up in the ranks and will be tasked with taking over the USWNT and carrying on the legacy.
And while she has said her priority right now remains with OL Reign, she has not ruled out the possibility of a return to the USWNT.
Meanwhile, Waldrum who was also at the just concluded World Cup with Nigeria’s senior women’s football team and also took the Super Falcons to the Round of 16 did not get any look in by his own country’s football federation while foreign nationals like Tony Gustavsson (Sweden); Lorne Donaldson (Jamaica) and Emma Hayes (England) have been contacted for the plum job.
This is even as Prompt News has exclusively gathered that Waldrum’s contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) may not be renewed as the football house wants to cut its coat according to the clothes available.
Although no official statement has been made by the NFF, the fate of head coach of Pittsburgh University Panthers women’s soccer team will be determined after the newly constituted NFF Technical Committee meeting which will hold in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja next week.