USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski steps down after disappointing World Cup
In a surprising move, Vlatko Andonovski has stepped down from his role as the U.S. women’s national team manager, with an official announcement from the U.S. Soccer Federation expected soon. Soccer insiders have speculated that Twila Kilgore, the current assistant coach, may fill in as interim coach for the upcoming friendlies against South Africa.
Andonovski’s decision follows the team’s disappointing performance in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where they were knocked out by Sweden, marking their earliest exit in the competition’s history.
Although Andonovski’s overall track record with the team was impressive (51-5-9), his performance in major tournaments hasn’t mirrored the same success. This became increasingly evident with the USWNT’s bronze medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
After seeking feedback from the soccer community, including players and coaches, the U.S. Soccer Federation and Andonovski reached the mutual decision that it was best for him to step down. As for the U.S. women’s team, there’s an ongoing review to decide the future direction of the program.
Interestingly, there’s buzz around the soccer circuit that Andonovski might be eyed for the managerial spot at Kansas City Current, a role currently held by Caroline Sjöblom on an interim basis.
Andonovski’s journey with U.S. Soccer began in 2019, succeeding Jill Ellis, a two-time World Cup-winning manager. His management style garnered appreciation, especially from seasoned players. However, the team’s uneven form, starting with the Tokyo Olympics, raised eyebrows. While some argue that the mood of the COVID-19 pandemic affected their Olympics performance, it was clear that the team needed rejuvenation.
Although the U.S. secured victories in friendly matches, they had a tough time against top-tier teams, even facing a losing streak against the likes of England, Spain, and Germany in 2022. While they did win the SheBelieves Cup in 2023, concerns persisted. Injuries to key players like Catarina Macario and Becky Sauerbrunn also played a role, forcing reshuffles that saw many debutantes in the World Cup squad.
Criticism around Andonovski grew louder during the World Cup due to questionable lineup choices and perceived in-game inflexibility. Despite showing promise in some matches, the team’s goal-scoring woes were evident, eventually leading to their exit.
With the 2024 Paris Olympics just around the corner, the U.S. Soccer Federation will be on the lookout for a capable replacement to steer the team towards gold.