We know 2022 NWSL expansion team Angel City FC will need to hire a head coach in the next few months — that’s how these things work — and on Thursday, we got the first tangible name in the ether on the search.
North Carolina Courage assistant coach Sean Nahas was named as Angel City’s “target,” for the head coaching position, per The Athletic’s Meg Linehan on Thursday, although the report indicated no finalized deal is yet in place.
Nahas has been part of the Courage organization since 2017. In that span, they won three consecutive NWSL Shields as the regular season champs, and won two NWSL Championships and finished as the losing finalist a third time. The Courage have been an absolute juggernaut since moving to North Carolina, and if Nahas can bring a similar track record to Los Angeles as Paul Riley has done for the Courage, it could be a very savvy hire indeed.
However, the initial report has led to considerable pushback from supporters of Angel City FC. With the club touting its status as being woman-led, with a majority woman ownership group, a woman as team president, a woman sporting director, and women installed in support and analytics positions in the front office, the potential choice to hire a man as head coach is not especially popular.
For example, the Rebellion 99 supporters group pointedly posted a list of women who could be coaching candidates on social media.
AC Pandemonium had a more blunt message about their desire to see a woman coaching the team.
It’s (always) a beautiful day to ✨Hire Women✨— AC Pandemonium (@ACPandemonium) July 8, 2021
From what I could see, all of the supporters groups amplified each other’s responses to the report.
For those reading this and wondering what’s the big deal if a man coaches a women’s team, I think there’s some important context to add to this. It is not only common for men to coach women’s soccer teams, but in the United States it is largely the norm, with only one team this season — Gotham FC, coached by Freya Coombe — in the NWSL with a woman head coach. This generally. extends to the college ranks and to the youth landscape, too. While the last two U.S. Women’s National Team head coaches were women, the current one is a man, and while his first big test is coming up with the Tokyo Olympics, he’s widely regarded as probably the best person for the job, regardless of gender.
And on some level, if you’re a good coach, the gender doesn’t matter, right? That’s true. But the reverse of this is that women don’t coach men’s teams anywhere. If we lived in a world where anyone could coach anyone, I don’t think this potential appointment would be remotely controversial. But since women don’t coach men and by and large don’t coach women, either, then Angel City’s talk about leading the way in a women-first organization rings perhaps hollow when arguably the biggest hire is made and it doesn’t represent that progressivism.
At the same time, it’s not Nahas’ fault he’s a man, and he seems to be getting in the crossfire inadvertently. If he is ultimately the first head coach, this social media response could be a tempest in a teacup, or it may drag on. One thing we’ve seen with Angel City FC’s supporters groups thus far is they are not afraid to push back against the club when they think a misstep is being made. I think the supporters are taking the club at their word, and they expect the organization to lead the rest of NWSL. Time will tell if anything changes on that front in the coaching search, or if Nahas is hired and wins over the fanbase over time.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.