Last week in women's soccer, we were treated to a pair of national team coaching changes, international friendlies between the United States and Colombia, and much more. England and Mexico have new leadership, while the U.S. women's national team have not skipped a beat. On the domestic side, Chelsea FC defeated Manchester City in the FA Women's Continental League Cup quarterfinal, while two NWSL clubs announced a new mini tournament for 2021.
Let's dive right in to recap what you may have missed over the week that was in women's soccer.
USWNT win international friendlies
The U.S. women's national team wrapped up January camp with a pair of friendly wins against Colombia at Exploria Stadium, 4-0 on Jan. 18 and 6-0 on Jan. 22.
Aside the lopsided outcomes, the matches and the camps provided competitive environments for players with notable absences in 2020. Megan Rapinoe made her return to the pitch, scoring two goals and earning an assist, while Carli Lloyd made her return with three assists in 118 minutes over the two matches.
Tierna Davidson also earned a start and played a full 90 minutes during the second friendly and played alongside her former Stanford University line-mate Alana Cook. It was Davidson's first full 90-minute effort since suffering an ankle injury in 2019 ahead of the NWSL championship game.
Lionesses announce new manager
Inter Miami recently announced Phil Neville, David Beckham's old Manchester United teammate, as head coach ahead of 2021 Major League Soccer season.
Neville was initially appointed as England manager back in 2018, leading the Lionesses to their first ever SheBelieves Cup title in 2019 and a fourth-place finish in the 2019 World Cup in France. Disappointing results would follow into the 2020 SheBelieves Cup as the team had a stretch with seven losses in 11 matches. The pandemic understandably shelved future fixtures for England, which would have served as preparation for Great Britain's Tokyo Olympics campaign later in the summer of 2021.
Despite the rough patch, the Neville era ended with 19 wins out of 35 matches. He is replaced by former Norway midfielder Hege Riise, who's in charge as a caretaker until Netherlands manager Sarina Wiegman begins her four-year deal in September after the Summer Olympics. Ex-Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson, 38, has joined Riise's interim coaching staff as an assistant.
Mexico makes history with new technical directors
The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) made history when Monica Vergara was named manager of the senior women's national team after Christopher Cuellar stepped down after almost an entire year without playing due to the pandemic and after failing to qualify for the Olympics last year, losing to Canada and the United States along the way, the two CONCACAF participants in Tokyo.
Vergara, 37, became the first woman to hold the position of technical director of the senior team. FMF also announced new leadership at the youth levels, naming Maribel Domínguez as coach of the U-20s, Ana Galindo as head of the U-17 squad, and Karla Maya in charge of the U-15 side.
Vergara has already made her first move at the helm, calling an immediate camp that features several names from Liga MX Femenil and players currently within U.S. colleges and universities. The short camp will take place from Jan. 28-Feb. 1 at Centro de Alto Rendimiento (CAR) in Mexico City. It's a move that already symbolizes a mutual understanding of evolving a senior women's team that has typically seen little time together or measurable investment and involvement from the federation.
The symbolism of Vergara being named head coach is significant and valid, as she is more than qualified to lead a national team with her experiences both as a player and coach of Mexico's youth programs. Vergara rose through the managerial ranks in the federation with her success in charge of the U-17 and U-20 teams. Success at the senior level will need to happen through a stronger commitment from the federation, and anything less would be setting up women to fail on the coaching and player side of Mexican soccer.
International Women's Cup in NWSL
The Chicago Red Stars and Racing Louisville FC will participate in the inaugural International Women's Cup in 2021 with two UEFA Women's Champions League clubs to be named in the coming weeks.
The mini-tournament is scheduled for August, with Louisville hosting Chicago on Aug. 18 in a sanctioned NWSL game to open the tournament while the two European teams close out the doubleheader. On Aug. 21, the winners of the first matchday will meet in the gold-medal game and the losers will play for bronze.
This is not to be confused with the already-established Women's International Champions Cup led by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' Relevent Sports Group, which took place in 2019 and 2018 and featured the North Carolina Courage, Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. Much like that event, the IWC will introduce European sides and we're guaranteed to have one NWSL match with table implications that actually counts in the regular season.
More information regarding which European clubs will participate will be announced at a later date.
A look ahead
NWSL currently has a schedule framework in place, with a formal scheduled to be announced in the near future. Players can arrive in markets starting Feb. 1. Some teams may miss players due to national team duty as the USWNT will begin preparations for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup scheduled to take place at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, from Feb. 18-24.