Vlatko Andonovski, the head coach of the US women’s national soccer team, resigned on Wednesday, three people with direct knowledge of the situation said, ending a relatively tumultuous period in managing what was once the preeminent team in the world.
The NFL plans to announce Andonovsky’s departure as coach Thursday, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move publicly.
Andonovski’s four-year contract was due to expire at the end of the year. US Soccer will appoint an interim coach for two friendlies this fall, but hopes to secure a permanent replacement by the end of the year in order to begin preparations for next summer’s Paris Olympics.
Andonovsky’s resignation was not unexpected. The United States underperformed considerably at the Women’s World Cup this year after winning the previous two tournaments. The team witnessed its first elimination in the history of the tournament, after losing a penalty shootout to its rival Sweden in the round of 16. The United States scored just four goals in the World Cup it entered as one of the favourites, beating just one of its four opponents, Vietnam, and drawing with the Netherlands and Portugal during the group stage.
Andonovsky, 46, was a head coach in the National Women’s Soccer League for seven years before NFL announce his appointment in October 2019. His predecessor, Jill Ellis, stepped down after five years with the team after the United States won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, making Ellis the first coach to win back-to-back Women’s World Cups.
Andonovsky won the first 16 matches he coached, including titles in the 2020 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers and Shepelives Cup. The coronavirus pandemic has struck Andonovsky six months old, pushing back the Tokyo Olympics a year into 2021 and complicating his first two years on the job. Once the Games appeared, the United States entered as favorites but only won a bronze medal.
With the World Cup underway, the United States’ ability to win the elusive three-thumbs–no team has won three consecutive titles since the tournament’s inception in 1991–was called into question almost immediately. The Americans beat Vietnam in their opening match, but by a relatively modest 3-0 margin, nothing like the 13-0 win over Thailand that opened their 2019 title run. The Americans would only score again, though, with a Lindsey Horan header that tied the score for the Netherlands, 1-1.
A goalless draw with Portugal was enough for the United States to advance but not win their group, spurring the need to “FaithThe social media campaign is heading into the round of 16 and opening the national team to criticism from its side, with former players such as Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd expressing their dissatisfaction with the team’s style of play.
Andonovski has been criticized for making tactical decisions, including his decisions about substitutions. He also had star players like Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz play different roles than they had in the past, with mixed results. Exciting newcomers like Ashley Sanchez and 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson barely played.
In the end, the millimeter was the threshold to allow Sweden to advance and stop the United States – and Andonovsky – miles short of expectations.
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