U.S. Soccer has announced the hiring of Michelle French as head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team.
French, who earned 14 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team, is U.S. Soccer’s first full-time U-20 WNT head coach and completes a plan outlined during the summer of 2011 to staff the U.S. youth Women’s National Team programs with five full-time hires.
French joins U.S. Soccer Technical Director April Heinrichs, Development Director Jill Ellis, Women’s Head Development Coach April Kater and U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team Head Coach B.J. Snow as the full-time staff charged with overseeing the women’s youth National Team programs.
“Over the last 10 years Michelle has coached at the club level as well as every level of our youth national team programs,” said Heinrichs. “While serving as the assistant coach to our U-18 youth National Team these last two years, she has demonstrated that she’s one of the brightest coaches in America. She understands the international game, values the technical level of today’s game, is tactically nuanced, knows the physical demands, and as a former Women’s National Team player, she is capable of assisting youth players in fine tuning their strengths, while improving their weaknesses.”
French, 36, takes over all aspects of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team program and will also work with U.S. Under-18 and Under-17 Women’s National Teams, which feed into the U-20 age group. French is charged with preparing the USA for qualifying for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Canada as a precursor to the next FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015. Her first competition will be in early March in La Manga, Spain, where the USA will face its counterparts from Norway, Germany and Sweden.
“The opportunity to lead the best young players in the country as they continue their journey to compete at the highest level with the full National Team is an honor and something I’ve been aspiring towards for several years,” said French. “There is a passion, responsibility and honor that comes with working for U.S. Soccer, and I truly couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity.”
French comes to U.S. Soccer after having coached at all levels of girls’ youth soccer. She has served as a scout for U.S. Club Soccer since 2009, was a coach in the Washington Girls’ Olympic Development Program and has served as an assistant coach for various U.S. Youth National Teams at the U-14, U-15, U-17 and U-18 levels since 2005. French, who holds a U.S. Soccer “A” License, also has experience in the college game, serving as an assistant at UCLA in 2002 and as a volunteer assistant at the University of Washington in 2005.
As a player, French was known for her tremendous work rate, being very technical on the ball and an ultimate team player. During her time with the WNT from 1997-2001, she was a member of the 2000 Olympic Team in Australia. At the club level, French played all three seasons in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), serving as co-captain for the Washington Freedom in 2001 and played for the San Jose CyberRays in 2002-2003.
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