Yahoo’s Doug McIntyre broke the news today that Kate Markgraf will be the US women’s national team general manager.
Markgraf is, of course, a former USWNT player herself, with 201 caps for the national team, of which she was co-captain, and a multitude of club-level experience. She was part of the 1999 World-Cup-winning team and has two Olympic gold medals, one from 2004, and one from 2008. She’s recently been working as a color commentator and analyst for ESPN, where she’s displayed some pretty competent chops at breaking down games in a clear, concise manner.
Markgraf is the first-ever GM for the USWNT, with her hiring coming on the heels of Earnie Stewart being appointed the first MNT GM. USSF president Carlos Cordeiro said last year that these positions are an attempt to “ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”
Markgraf’s overall responsibilities will involve shaping the soccer culture and playing style of the WNT, but her most immediate task is hiring a new head coach as Jill Ellis is stepping down from her position. USSF’s original description of the GM role from last year is that “the new GM will come on board in an observation and support role for U.S. head coach Jill Ellis and her staff, with the long-term goals of continuing to mold and guide the culture and environment of the senior National Team.”
Markgraf has already spoken about who she’d like to see in the role.
Markgraf said on ESPN the likely USWNT coaching candidates are Laura Harvey, Paul Riley, Vlatko Andonovski & Mark Krikorian. Markgraf would be in charge of the hire if she becomes GM. I'm hearing federation leadership would likely prefer a woman as coach—only one here is Harvey. https://t.co/NMtYSQ7TbW— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) July 31, 2019
Markgraf will be racing against the clock somewhat to install someone with enough time to prepare for the 2020 Olympics, but should she consider an NWSL coach, will undoubtedly have to wait until the end of the season in October to make an announcement, or to interview someone who may be focusing on playoffs.
Will Markgraf’s experience as a WNT player make her more suited to helping guide the WNT’s culture into the future? Is she too insular, making her less likely to be willing to think outside the box or look at outsiders? Or is she sufficiently removed from USSF’s more corporate side, allowing her to challenge them when necessary? The role is essentially hers to shape, as she’s coming onboard into a brand new position.
Cordeiro will be making an announcement to the media later today; we’ll update with any pertinent information from that press conference.
Do you think Markgraf is the right pick for GM?