The 2022 NWSL expansion team scheduled to launch in San Diego announced on Wednesday they have hired Casey Stoney to be the club’s inaugural head coach.
Stoney, 39, joins San Diego’s new team after a distinguished playing and coaching career in her native England, most recently managing Manchester United.
“Casey is one of the most decorated, distinguished and talented English players of all-time and has transitioned seamlessly in her role as a manager,” said San Diego NWSL President Jill Ellis in a statement. “She immediately turned Manchester United Women Football Club into respected contenders and established herself as one of the top managers in the league. Casey has all of the qualities we want in our manager and she is fully committed to making San Diego NWSL a globally-successful club and brand led by powerful and talented women. We are thrilled to secure her as our manager and look forward to what she will bring to our club and city.”
Stoney started her professional playing career at Arsenal in 1999, also featuring at Charlton, Chelsea, Lincoln, and Liverpool before retiring in 2018. An England international from 2000-17, she earned 130 caps, in addition to playing for Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.
Upon retirement, Stoney was part of Phil Neville’s coaching staff for England briefly, before taking the Manchester United women’s manager position in 2018. Notably, that team was being newly launched, so she has some experience in getting a new pro women’s team off the ground, and she led them to the English Championship title in 2018-19. Her team finished 4th in the COVID-hit 2019-20 campaign in the FAWSL, before finishing 4th again last season, coming a mere point within qualifying for the Champions League.
“I am extremely excited and motivated to lead San Diego NWSL on the field next season and beyond,” said Stoney. “Jill and this ownership group are deeply committed to building a world-class club both on and off the field and I look forward to being a part of creating our culture and style of play as a team. I am eager to begin work immediately ahead of our inaugural year of competition in NWSL next season.”
Stoney’s appointment is intriguing for several reasons. She had been linked to this position after departing Man United, and she’s absolutely regarded as an up-and-comer in the English-language coaching world. This is also a bit of a tweak of sorts, implicitly, at NWSL rival and fellow expansion team Angel City FC, whose reported coaching selection appears to have fallen apart amid supporter resistance in the past week.
But at the same time, this is new territory for Stoney, who has never lived, played or coached in the United States or NWSL before, so we’ll see if there will be a learning curve for a new league with an entirely new system. We’ll see, but one big part of San Diego NWSL’s project has now been added to the mix.
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