The United States Soccer Federation finally has a new sporting director. This morning, the federation announced that Matt Crocker has accepted the sporting director position and, while he will assist with the USWNT’s preparations for this summer’s Women’s World Cup, he will begin working full time on August 2nd.
Crocker comes to U.S. Soccer from Southampton FC, where he was the director of football operations for the club that’s currently in the Premier League. Before his stint at Southampton, he was the head of development teams for the English Football Association and has 25 years of experience in player development, particularly at the youth level.
He now takes over at U.S. Soccer, overseeing the entire sporting department for the federation, which will include the USMNT, USWNT, all youth national teams, and the extended national teams. One of his first tasks that he will undertake immediately is the process of hiring a new permanent head coach for the USMNT. Since former coach Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired on December 31st, Anthony Hudson has led the team on an interim basis.
Crocker will also be responsible for setting U.S. Soccer’s sporting vision and further creating a sporting culture and philosophy that will be shared by the national teams on all levels.
“I am honored and excited to join U.S. Soccer as the new Sporting Director,” said Crocker in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. “This is a tremendous opportunity to build an elite program and to help raise the level of soccer in the United States. As Sporting Director, my immediate focus will be on supporting the Women’s National Team as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup and on hiring a head coach for the Men’s National Team. These are critical priorities, and I am committed to ensuring that both have my immediate focus. I am also looking forward to working with the entire U.S. Soccer community, including coaches, clubs, and players at all levels, to develop a clear and consistent playing philosophy and to identify and advance talent across the country. U.S. Soccer has tremendous potential, and I am excited to be a part of its future.”
U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone highlighted some of the characteristics that prompted the federation to go with Crocker for the position. “He is an experienced leader and has had success at the professional and National Team level,” Cone said in a statement. “He is a great communicator and team builder. Matt brings a wealth of experience in player development and has a clear strategy. As we continue to build and strengthen U.S. Soccer, we are confident that Matt’s leadership will be instrumental in helping us achieve our goals. We are thrilled to welcome him to the U.S. Soccer family and look forward to working together to continue the growth of the sport.”
It’s a privilege to welcome Matt as our next Sporting Director. His knowledge, passion, and ability to develop talent will be a welcome addition to our team. I’m excited for him to join an immensely talented sporting department at U.S. Soccer https://t.co/mIFOszOJTA— jtbatson (@jtbatson) April 25, 2023
Crocker’s role at the FA was, among other things, helping to establish the playing and coaching styles for the national team setups that they call the “England DNA.” His main focus on the youth national teams have led to lots of recent success for England, with the nation winning the 2017 U-17 and U-20 World Cups as well as the 2019 UEFA U-19 Euros.
At Southampton, Crocker’s main responsibility was the continued evolution of their academy, which is considered one of the best in England. He also helped develop Southampton’s women’s team, which went from part time to a full professional team that has risen from the National League to the Championship in just a couple of seasons.
U.S. Soccer also has a history with hiring from Southampton’s academy. In 2017, U.S. Soccer hired James Bunce from Southampton to serve as the federation’s high performance director. He served in that position for 3 years before moving to AS Monaco in 2020 to serve as their performance director.
Now, it’s Matt Crocker’s time to serve in the highest sporting role at U.S. Soccer. And, despite being part time at least until the summer, he will have to hit the ground running to help fill new roles on the USMNT side while also helping the USWNT prepare to defend their World Cup title in New Zealand and Australia.