The head coach of the US women’s national team, Vlatko Andonovski, has resigned, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press
Women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski has resigned, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the move has not been officially announced. An announcement is expected Thursday.
The four-time champion struggled during the World Cup. Victories over Vietnam at the start of the group stage were followed by draws against the Netherlands and Portugal – barely enough to get the team into the knockout stage.
The Americans played well in the Round of 16 against Sweden, but eventually fell on penalties after a goalless draw. The USA scored only four goals over the course of the tournament.
The United States has never been worse than third in the previous World Cup.
The 46-year-old Andonovsky was appointed coach of the United States in October 2019, succeeding Jill Ellis, who led the United States to two consecutive World Cup titles. He finished 51-5-9 during his time with the team, and was 3-2-5 in the major leagues.
After the match against Sweden, Andonovsky said he was not thinking about his future with the team – only its young players. 14 players on the roster appeared in their first World Cup finals, 12 of whom did not participate in a major tournament.
“We spent four years together. They got their first cap with me, they got their first call-up to the national team with me,” Andonovsky said. “We had tough times, good times. I don’t want to see them like this. That’s all I can think of.”
The United States was bitten by injuries in the run-up to the tournament, and lost key players. Mallory Swanson injured her knee during a friendly in April, and captain Becky Sauerbrunn was unable to recover from a foot injury in time.
Promising young striker, Catarina Macario, tore up the AFC Champions League with her club Lyon last year, and was also not quite ready to play in the World Cup.
The World Cup has been a challenge for many elite teams because of the ever-increasing parity in the women’s game. Germany, Brazil and Canada, the winners in Tokyo, also came out early. Sunday’s final between England and Spain in Sydney will award the tournament’s first winner.
Andonovsky was the senior head coach of Seattle’s OL Region in the National Women’s Soccer League when he was hired. During his seven years in the NWSL, he captained the now defunct Kansas City team from the league’s inception in 2013 until the club folded in 2017, winning two league titles.
Andonovski, a native of Skopje, Macedonia, played for several teams in Europe before embarking on a professional soccer career within the United States.
His predecessor on the US team, Ellis, led the Americans to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. Over her five-year tenure, they lost just seven matches.
“What I would hope for in this (recruitment) process is that it is robust and diverse. It has to be that way,” Ellis said Thursday in Sydney. This is a very important recruitment. I think he was the right person.”
The timeline for finding a replacement is relatively short. The United States has already qualified for the 2024 Olympics in France. Prior to that, the team played exhibition matches against South Africa on September 21 in Cincinnati and September 24 in Chicago.
Associated Press sportswriter John Bay contributed to this report.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup
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