It took the soccering world about 24 hours to get over the shock of the US Women’s national team’s untimely exit from the 2023 World Cup. But as soon as they did, the next immediate thought turned, as it often does, to who would lead the US over the next cycle which will culminate in the 2027 World Cup.
While it is possible Vlatko Andonovski will stay in charge, the odds seem slim.
First of all, leading any national team for more than one cycle is exhausting, and in the modern day is becoming less and less of a common thing. Over the last four World Cups, the Spanish National Men’s team has had seven different coaches. The England Women’s National team has also had seven. It’s a high-turnover profession.
So, in the likely event that US Soccer makes a change at the helm of our storied and successful Women’s national team, who might be most qualified to don the skippers cap?
Look no further than Pitt Women’s coach Randy Waldrum.
Waldrum has a solid track record at every soccer program he’s been in charge of. In his time as head coach of the Notre Dame Women’s team from 1999 to 2013, he ran up a 292–58–17 (WLT) record and won the 2004 and 2010 NCAA National Championships. Only three other coaches have won multiple Women’s NCAA championships – Paul Ratcliffe, Mark Krikorian, and Anson Dorrance.* Waldrum was head coach for NWSL expansion team Houston Dash from 2014 to 2017, where he coached top players like England’s Rachel Daly, Australia’s Lydia Williams, and US players Kealia Ohai, Morgan Brian, and Carli Lloyd. The Dash struggled in terms of wins and losses, but an argument can be made that in comparison to some of their opponents in the NWSL, ownership wasn’t investing in the caliber of players necessary to create a winning team.
In 2018 Waldrum was lured to Pitt to be the head women’s team coach by Athletic Director Heather Lykke. Pitt’s jump to the ACC in 2013 was a quantum leap for both soccer teams from the Big East, as the ACC has generally been regarded as the best soccer conference in the US. Waldrum took a struggling team from winless in the ACC in 2018 to 14-5-3 overall and 5-3-2 in ACC play in 2022. The Panthers earned both ACC and NCAA tournament berths this year; both for the first time.
Waldrum capped off this stellar year with his trip to Australia for the 2023 Women’s World Cup as head coach of the Nigerian national team. The Super Eagles have been, by all accounts, a smashing success; earning a draw against Canada and a win over host nation Australia in the group stage. Another draw against Ireland saw them through to the knockout round. It was only the third time in history the team had advanced past the group stage. Nigeria’s tournament ended on August 7 with a PK shootout defeat at the hands of England.
Now with the US team in search of a coach, they’ll be wanting someone with experience both in the US and on the international stage. They’ll want someone who has worked with global superstars and young upstarts alike. They’ll want someone with a good head for tactics and recruitment. Waldrum ticks all those boxes.
Randy Waldrum ticks all the boxes you’d want in a USWNT head coach.
✅ NWSL exp. (Houston Dash)
✅ National team exp. (Nigeria)
✅ Great at rebuilding (Pitt)
✅ Excellent w/media
✅ Proven track record of winning
✅ Knows the US soccer system
✅ Clear tactical vision
— Soccer Rabbi (@soccer_rabbi) August 8, 2023
Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have a media-friendly personality who is at ease in from of a reporters microphone. I can say from personal experience that Randy Waldrum is a delight to interview – he’s clear, upbeat, focused, and intelligent. He knows how to talk to people, he knows what notes to hit to highlight his program, and he always wins over his audience.
There are definitely some bigger names and flashier choices that will be thrown out as suggestions. But I have no doubt that not only is Randy Waldrum on US Soccer’s list as a potential candidate to be the head of the USWNT: he might just be the best person for the job.
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* Full disclosure: Anson Dorrance has won the NCAA championship with the University of North Carolina 21 times. Krikorian, Ratcliffe, and Waldrum, with two wins each, are not quite at the same level.