College Football & Soccer Analyst
Vlatko Andonovski will not return as the head coach of the United States women’s national team.
Sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to FOX Sports on Wednesday that Andonovski resigned, and that it was a mutual parting of ways. A formal announcement is expected Thursday morning. The news was first reported by soccer website 90min.com.
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Andonovski, who has managed the team for four years, oversaw the USWNT’s worst World Cup finish in history when it was ousted by Sweden in the round of 16. It was the first time the Americans did not advance to the semifinals at a World Cup and only the second time they did not earn a medal in a major tournament. This outcome followed a disappointing third-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, where the U.S. had entered as the favorite.
While Andonovski’s departure was expected, he was well-liked and respected by players and staff. However, concerns around his tactics and overall strategy bubbled up during the World Cup.
Now, the U.S. Soccer Federation will begin the search for his replacement — and it will have to do so quickly as the Paris Olympics are less than a year away. In the meantime, it is expected to appoint an interim head coach for upcoming friendly matches this fall.
The U.S. entered the World Cup as the prohibitive favorite and two-time defending champion. The Americans were striving for an unprecedented third consecutive title — a feat no women’s or men’s team has ever accomplished.
Instead, after a dispiriting group stage during which they failed to win at least two games for the first time (they notched one win and two ties), they were dumped out of the competition in the round of 16 by Sweden, which won the match in a penalty shootout following a scoreless draw.
Scoring was a problem for the U.S. throughout Andonovski’s four-year tenure. The 46-year-old was hired to replace Jill Ellis in 2019 with a mandate to refresh the program, move on from some of the older mainstays from the successful 2015 and 2019 squads and institute a more modern playing style.
That plan was slowed by the global COVID-19 pandemic and by injuries to key players — the U.S. was missing as many as five projected starters during the World Cup, including 2023 leading scorer Mallory Swanson. But the team also never really found its attacking groove under Andonovski, whose reputation soared after he led the NWSL’s OL Reign to consecutive league titles in the mid-2010s.
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The Americans managed to score just four goals in four games at the 2023 World Cup — three of them in their opening match over badly overmatched Vietnam. They were shut out in their last two games Down Under. By contrast, the USWNT found the net 26 times in seven games en route to winning the 2019 World Cup in France.
While Andonovski leaves the job without having won either of the two major tournaments for the USWNT, he did give first caps to several young players who will be mainstays of the team for years to come. Among those are defenders Naomi Girma and Emily Fox, as well as forward Sophia Smith, all of them starters in every game at the 2023 World Cup, plus winger Trinity Rodman, who was in the coach’s lineup for three of the Americans’ four matches.
Vlatko Andonovski’s postgame news conference after USWNT’s elimination
Andonovski, whose contract was set to expire later this year, was on the sideline for 65 games with the USWNT. He finishes with a record of 51W-5L-9T.
Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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