USWNT: Natalia Astrain announced as U17 head coach

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 10: Young fans cheer as members of the US Women's National Soccer Team travel down the "Canyon of Heroes" in a ticker tape parade on July 10, 2019 in New York City. The team defeated the Netherlands 2-0 Sunday in France to take the 2019 Women’s World Cup. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Former Barcelona manager and Kansas City assistant coach, Natalia Astrain has joined the United States national team set up, taking charge of the U17s age group.

The Spaniard comes with a wealth of experience. Not only did she serve as manager of Barcelona, she also enjoyed a stint as their academy’s technical director. Astrain spent time time working in further senior roles with Levante, Atletico Madrid, and Houston Dash.

The sheer pedigree of having Astrain at the helm of the USA’s U17 development group shows the value their setup places on development from a young age.

“We’re excited to bring Natalia on to lead our U17 USWNT program,” USWNT’s general manager Kate Markgraf said of the appointment. “She brings an impressive resume at every level of the game, both domestically and abroad.

“That blend of experience in the pro game and the academy system makes her an excellent choice to assist in the development of our U17 players and help them reach the next level. We’re confident Natalia will do a great job preparing the group for the World Cup qualifying next spring.”

As part of the coaching integration system the USWNT has in place, Astrain will work across all the age groups. Though her main focus of her role will be on the U17s.

“It’s an honour to have the opportunity to work for U.S. Soccer,” Astrain said of her new role. “To be part of supporting and developing these young players at such an important phase in their careers is incredibly exciting.

“I’m eager to help push them toward excellence as we prepare them for success at the international level.”

Astrain wont have much time to figure out who her best group of players are, however. The U17 World Championship, hosted by the Dominican Republic starts in April 2022.

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