US Soccer announced last night that WNT Technical Director April Heinrichs will leave the role at the end of the year. Heinrichs has been in the role since 2011, overseeing the development of the youth national team programs. Neither she nor USSF gave a reason for her departure, other than Heinrichs saying “the time is right to move on,” but the timing does coincide somewhat with USSF’s search for a women’s general manager.
US Soccer’s press release said that the timeline for having a new GM is some time next winter, October and November for pre-screening candidates and December and January for interviews and making a shortlist of five or six. With Heinrichs leaving the TD position at the end of December, does that mean she anticipates interviewing for the GM position? It’s unlikely she’s leaving pre-emptively before the GM can potentially clean house; the WNT GM will not have direct oversight of the youth teams. Her leaving could be completely unrelated to the GM search as well; eight years is certainly a good amount of time in the position.
What is clear is that the youth program has been struggling for a while now. It all came to a head at the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup, when the United States got bounced out in the group stages. They were utterly unable to keep up with both Spain and Japan, and the program has perhaps been missing out on identifying or developing talent who could go on to become competitive for the full senior team.
Now with US Soccer in the position of having to install both a general manager and a youth technical director, there’s a lot up in the air about the future of the women’s program. Who they interview and ultimately pick will signal a lot about their intent for at least the next four to eight years of this program.