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Vlatko Andonovski is out as U.S. women’s national team coach

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A little more than a week after the U.S. women’s national soccer team completed the worst World Cup performance in its history, coach Vlatko Andonovski and the U.S. Soccer Federation have parted ways, three people close to the situation said Wednesday. A formal announcement is expected Thursday.

Andonovski, in the final year of his contract, lost only five matches in regulation over almost four years overseeing the team. But expectations around the decorated program go far beyond wins and losses, and by failing to guide the team to an Olympic gold medal two years ago in Tokyo and losing to Sweden in a round-of-16 match in Melbourne, Australia, this month, his days were numbered.

With the Paris Olympics less than a year away, the USSF is eager to turn the page, according to two people familiar with the talks.

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The USSF did not want to comment Wednesday. Andonovski did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment and his agency, Wasserman, said it did not want to comment.

Succeeding two-time world champion coach Jill Ellis, Andonovski posted a 51-5-9 record and navigated a transitional period compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and long-term injuries to key players. But in each of his major competitions, his team stumbled. In 2021, it settled for a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, and this summer in New Zealand and Australia, it was ousted in a shootout following a 0-0 draw with the Swedes.

In each of the eight previous World Cups, the four-time champions fared no worse than third place. And for the first time, the Americans failed in consecutive major competitions to advance to the final.

This summer, the young squad sputtered through the group stage and finished with five points, the fewest in team history. Placing second in its group behind the Netherlands, the U.S. team played well in the round of 16 but didn’t score for the second straight match and squandered a chance to win the shootout in the fifth round.

“It’s selfish to think about me, my future, what I am going to do, when we’ve got 20-year-old players going through this situation,” Andonovski said after the team was eliminated Aug. 6. “I want to be there for them. I love them. I love them all. They’re my players, but they’re my friends.”

Andonovski drew scrutiny for lineup decisions, for making only one of a possible five substitutions during a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in the second group match and for relying heavily on ineffective veteran attackers Alex Morgan, a starter, and Megan Rapinoe, a sub.

Andonovski’s imminent departure was first reported by 90min.com.

Before accepting the U.S. job in 2019, Andonovski won two NWSL championships and two coach of the year awards. He drew praise from national team players who had played for him in the NWSL. ESPN reported Andonovski is a candidate to become coach of the NWSL’s Kansas City Current; he lives in the Kansas City area.

In the World Cup, however, he was without Becky Sauerbrunn, Mallory Swanson, Catarina Macario, Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper because of injuries. Only nine of the 23 players had World Cup experience, the fewest holdovers in U.S. history.

The U.S. shortcomings occurred amid rapid change in the women’s game. With greater investment, World Cup matches have grown more competitive, and fledgling programs are making notable strides.

This summer, Jamaica, South Africa and Morocco advanced to the knockout stage for the first time, while stalwarts Germany, Brazil and Canada did not. And if not for a Portuguese shot hitting the post in the waning moments of the group finale, the United States would have been eliminated even earlier.

Sunday’s final will feature first-time finalists England and Spain.

Possible U.S. candidates include Australia Coach Tony Gustavsson, a former U.S. assistant; New Zealand Coach Jitka Klimkova, an ex-U.S. youth national team boss; Jamaica Coach Lorne Donaldson, who, at a Colorado youth club, molded the careers of Swanson and Sophia Smith; Laura Harvey, coach of the NWSL’s OL Reign; and Emma Hayes, the longtime Chelsea coach.

The U.S. team’s next games are friendlies against South Africa, Sept. 21 in Cincinnati and Sept. 24 in Chicago. An interim coach will oversee the team for these matches and could end up guiding the team in October as well, said one person familiar with the situation.



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