Vlatko Andonovski has resigned as coach of the U.S. women’s soccer team less than two weeks after the team was eliminated from the World Cup in the round of 16, its earliest exit from a major competition.
The news was first reported by the soccer website 90Minutes and confirmed by both the Athletic and ESPN. A formal announcement from U.S. Soccer is expected Thursday.
Andonovski, who won two NWSL championships as coach of FC Kansas City, took over in the fall of 2019, months after the U.S. had won its second consecutive World Cup under Jill Ellis. Although he went 51-5-9 over four years — the five losses the fewest for a U.S. coach with as least 60 games on the sidelines — two of those losses came in the Tokyo Olympics. He won just once in four tries at this summer’s World Cup before being eliminated by Sweden on penalty kicks.
Andonovski was missing four starters to injury before selecting his World Cup roster but the team he did choose included 14 players who had never been to the tournament before as well as an aging Megan Rapinoe. As in the Olympics, where the Americans settled for its first bronze medal, the coach’s tactics and substitutions were roundly criticized in a World Cup in which the top-ranked U.S. nearly lost a group-stage game to Portugal and went the final 238 minutes without a score.
U.S. Soccer will have to move quickly to find a replacement for Andonovski, whose contract ran through the end the year. The women’s team, which already has qualified for next summer’s Paris Olympics, begins building for that tournament with a pair of friendlies against South Africa next month.
The federation hasn’t tipped its hand on a possible successor but the chance to coach the four-time World Cup champion U.S. team, historically the most successful and best-funded in women’s soccer, will draw a long list of applicants.
Among the most attractive candidates is England coach Sarina Wiegman, who took the Lionesses to a European championship last year and has them in the World Cup final this year. However, she is under contract to England and should she want to leave, buying her out is likely to be difficult and expensive.
Other options include OL Reign coach Laura Harvey, a three-time NWSL coach of the year who narrowly lost to Andonovski in the coaching search four years ago, and Australian manager Tony Gustavsson, a U.S. assistant under both Ellis and Pia Sundhage. Gustavsson guided the Matildas to the semifinals of this summer’s World Cup at home and is under contract with the team through the Paris Olympics.