It’s official: Casey Stoney has been finally introduced as the new head coach for San Diego’s new NWSL franchise in 2022.
Stoney previous coached Manchester United to 52 wins in 77 games across three seasons, winning the second division Championship title in her first season and leading the side to two consecutive fourth place finishes in the highly competitive FA Women’ Super League.
It’s clear that the former United manager has all of the qualities a coach needs to make this new San Diego NWSL team a globally-successful club and brand.
During her presentation, Stoney told the media that she wanted to approach the NWSL season with a strong defensive system, particularly as she played as a center defender in her career.
“I think obviously watching the [NWSL] games, one of my big observations is it’s so open, and the gaps and distances between lines is huge, which for players that play in pockets is great, but for me as a head coach; I’d be horrified in terms of the distances in the lines.
“And yes, defending starts from the front, so it’s a non-negotiable in my team that we work hard, we press, we win the ball back as quick as possible. Most games we’ll go high, we go and win it back. I was a center back, you’re normally the less technical players on the pitch, so why don’t we go get pressure on them early?”
Stoney also talked about the importance of making a positive impression as a team in the community:
“It has to be more about the impact you have on the community and the impact you have on people, the legacy that you leave as a player. I always said I wanted to leave the shirt in a better place. Now I didn’t ever win a World Cup. I’d love to have, but I felt like I did my job and I left my shirt at a better place for the next person to take it, and that’s about encouraging the fan base, the little girls that want to pick up a ball and play now because they watch our team play. It’s about making sure that we create a culture where fans want to come in. It’s a place where people feel welcome.”
Stoney also emphasized the high standards that she will bring to her new club on and off the field:
“I always say the Saturday or the Sunday or the Friday night game is a byproduct of what you do during the week. I create an ultra-competitive environment where we score pretty much everything. We make sure that the players strive to be better, because there are things that go against you in the game.
“You can’t be guaranteed to win every day. What you can do is work to win, and you can do it the right way with integrity. You can do it the right way with respect. I have non-negotiables as a coach. I believe in respecting everything and everyone. Everywhere we go, we should always leave people with a positive feeling. If we leave the dressing room it’s swept and it’s cleared. If we go somewhere we make sure we say hello, please, and thank you.”
Stoney left Manchester United unexpectedly in May amid uncertainty over the team’s training facilities and schedule. She had recently been linked with the men’s team manager role at Wrexham, the club owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny; however, it seems her destination is now clear.
San Diego will join the NWSL for the 2022/23 season along with Angel City, a Los Angeles-based franchise backed by a majority-female ownership group co-founded by actor Natalie Portman, and with investment from Jessica Chastain, Eva Longoria and Serena Williams, among others.