Vlatko Andonovski has resigned as the head coach of the US women’s national soccer team, following their disappointing performance at the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The USWNT, who were aiming for a historic third consecutive title, were eliminated by Sweden in the round of 16 on penalty kicks, marking their worst ever result in the tournament.
Andonovski’s record and legacy
Andonovski took over the USWNT in October 2019, succeeding Jill Ellis, who had led the team to back-to-back World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. He had a stellar record of 51 wins, five draws and nine losses in his tenure, and guided the team to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. He also introduced several new players to the squad, such as Catarina Macario, Sophia Smith and Midge Purce, and gave more opportunities to veterans like Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe.
However, Andonovski faced criticism for some of his tactical and personnel decisions, especially during the World Cup. He was accused of being too conservative and predictable, relying on a 4-3-3 formation that failed to create enough chances against organized defenses. He also struggled to find the right balance between experience and youth, as some of his key players looked fatigued or out of form. His substitutions and game management were also questioned, as he often failed to make timely or effective changes.
USWNT’s World Cup woes
The USWNT entered the World Cup as the favorites, having won the SheBelieves Cup and the Tournament of Nations earlier in the year. They breezed through their group stage, beating Thailand 9-0, Nigeria 4-0 and Norway 3-0. However, they faced a tough challenge in the round of 16 against Sweden, who had beaten them 3-0 in their opening game at the Olympics.
The game was a tense and tight affair, with both teams creating few clear-cut chances. The USWNT had more possession and shots, but Sweden defended well and looked dangerous on the counterattack. The game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, and went to a penalty shootout. The USWNT missed three of their five penalties, with Rapinoe hitting the post, Lloyd having her shot saved and Alex Morgan skying her effort over the bar. Sweden converted four of their five penalties, with Stina Blackstenius scoring the decisive spot-kick to send the USWNT home.
The loss was a shock for the USWNT, who had never failed to reach at least the semifinals of the World Cup before. It also ended their 44-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, dating back to January 2020. The USWNT players and fans were devastated by the result, with some calling it the end of an era for the team.
What’s next for USWNT?
According to multiple reports, Andonovski has already informed his players and staff of his decision to resign. He is expected to make an official announcement on Thursday. US Soccer is reportedly finalizing a deal with assistant coach Twila Kilgore to take over as interim head coach until a permanent replacement is found. Kilgore will lead the team in their upcoming friendlies against South Africa on September 21 and 24.
The USWNT will also have to prepare for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, where they will hope to reclaim their gold medal. They will face some tough competition from teams like Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and France, who have all improved in recent years. The USWNT will also have to deal with some potential retirements or departures of some of their star players, such as Lloyd, Rapinoe, Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn.
Meanwhile, Andonovski is reportedly drawing interest from multiple teams globally, including clubs in Europe and Australia. He has not ruled out coaching another national team in the future, but said he needs some time to reflect on his experience with the USWNT.