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Laura Harvey top contender for Chelsea job, reports say

Casey Stoney and Elisabet Gunnarsdottir, who led Kristianstads DFF, are reportedly also being considered.

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3 min read
Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

Seattle Reign head coach Laura Harvey and the San Diego Wave's Casey Stoney are leading candidates for the Chelsea women's job, according to The Times. Chelsea's current manager Emma Hayes is set to take over the U.S. Women's National Team when the Women's Super League season concludes in May.

The Times reports that a small number of Chelsea players were asked whether they would prefer a man or woman to succeed Hayes, along with any key characteristics they felt were important. The players shared their preference for a woman, which is being considered as part of the search.

Havey has now been coaching in the U.S. for more than a decade, joining the Reign in 2013 after a successful coaching stint with Arsenal. Stoney played for Chelsea from 2007-2011 and served as an emergency player-manager at the end of 2009. She coached at Manchester United for three seasons before coming to the Wave.

How worried should fans be about Harvey leaving?

While it could happen, there are a lot of reasons for her to stay in Seattle. In addition to her long-term coaching stint and love for Seattle, Harvey has family and a home in California. She also has a real opportunity to build something special in Seattle under new ownership and with a permanent training facility for the club. Last July, she signed a contract keeping her with the Reign through 2025.

And not that people should judge anything based on a coach's social media presence, but her excitement about the return of the Queen and the Seattle Reign name feels like a coach who wants to stay in this region.

When stories emerged last fall pointing to Harvey as a leading candidate for the USWNT role, she referenced her long-term commitment to the Reign when asked about the rumors by reporters.

“I love it here, that’s no secret. I’ve committed to the future of this club. I actually give our team and players credit if my name is anywhere near anything, because that just shows the performances that our group’s been putting in.”

The Attacking Third podcast interviewed Harvey when she was at the United Soccer Coaches convention last weekend and asked about the Chelsea rumor. Harvey laughed about it and reinforced her commitment to the Reign.

"I'm committed to my job ... to what's in front of me with the Reign, I'm excited about a new challenge, a new season. Obviously, the Chelsea job is something that will be an exciting proposition for somebody," Harvey noted before saying that all the rumors make her smile. "I just smile. I honestly thought something bad had happened ... I didn't realize that my name had been brought up. I think that it's obviously always nice to feel like you're wanted, but my home's in Seattle right now."

Of course, the offer could always be too compelling – and the pull of coaching in the Champions League has to be intriguing. Harvey was spotted as a Chelsea guest at Stamford Bridge for the Champions League match against Hacken in December. She attended Jess Fishlock and Tziarra King's wedding in Wales later in the week, as well. In addition, Harvey – back in England for the break – also watched the Blues lose to her former club Arsenal on December 10 at the Emirates. Harvey was joined in the director's box by Angel City president Julie Uhrman for that game.

According to reports, Harvey and Stoney aren't the only coaches who are in consideration. Journalist Amanda Zaza reports for SVT Sport that Elisabet "Beta" Gunnarsdottir, who led Kristianstads DFF for nearly 15 years, is among the remaining candidates alongside Harvey and Stoney.

It's unclear just how much the Chelsea role could pay, but it could be a large offer. The club reportedly offered to quadruple Hayes' salary to keep her instead of going to the USWNT, but she wound up agreeing to a $2 million salary with the USWNT. Noting the money was not the ultimate motivator in the move, Hayes said she made £6,000 a year – and then £12,000 – in her early days at Chelsea.

Aston Villa manager Carla Ward and Hayes's former assistant Tanya Oxtonby have reportedly also been considered. For now, Harvey is all-in on the Reign and told reporters she was thrilled to get the players she did in the NWSL Draft on Friday evening. The Reign preseason kicks off in just a couple of weeks.