Vlatko Andonovski officially named U.S. Women’s National Team manager

Vlatko Andonovski

New York City, New York — It almost seemed like a time without Jill Ellis as the U.S. Women’s National Team coach would be impossible. However, after winning a second World Cup, Ellis stepped down and someone new was going to fill her shoes. After weeks of speculation and rumors flying, Vlatko Andonovski was named that successor on Monday.

The rumors even swirled down in Cary, North Carolina, where the NWSL Championship was held this past weekend. For the second year in a row, the North Carolina Courage lifted up the championship trophy. They defeated the Chicago Red Stars, 4-0.

Andonovski was presented on Monday afternoon in New York, alongside U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro and the first-ever USWNT General Manager Kate Markgraf.

Meanwhile, Andonovski joins the USWNT after recently winning the NWSL Coach of the Year honor. He won the award after leading Reign FC to a second-consecutive playoff appearance.

Andonovski has plenty of success in NWSL. He spent his last seven years of coaching in the NWSL. The league has also been around for seven years. The Yugoslavian-born coach began his NWSL coaching career with FC Kansas City, remaining with the club until its folding.

Andonovski led FC Kansas City to back-to-back NWSL titles, being the first coach to do so. He was awarded the NWSL Coach of the Year honor in 2013, as well. Meanwhile, Andonovski compiled a 72-50-43 record in the NWSL.

Born in the current Skopje, North Macedonia, Andonovski will look to shake up the national team. He’ll have friendlies against Sweden and Costa Rica on Nov. 7 and 10. However, he’ll also hold an ID, discovery camp, for NWSL players who haven’t received a call up, or have only received slim call up opportunities.

Starting a new USWNT chapter

Andonovski is the ninth national team coach in the team’s history. He’s succeeding a legend in Ellis, who was the first female coach to win back-to-back World Cup titles this past summer.

Those players on the World Cup roster have the chance to impress Andonovski. However, the former Reign FC head coach made one thing clear: if you don’t perform, you’re out.

“We have a very experienced team,” Andonovski said. “We have players who have been on the international stage and won big tournaments. We’re going to rely heavily on them but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to expand the roster. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to expand the pool, dip into the pool. We’re going to look at new players. The ones that perform the best in training and in games will be on the roster.”

A former defender who spent time in Kansas City and Philadelphia, Andonovski went through a rigorous process of being selected as head coach. Markgraf explained the process, saying that Andonovski and another candidate were grilled with questions that were not prepared early for them to see. Then, she said that Andonovski and the fellow candidate were asked to present in Chicago to Markgraf and a committee.

Other key points

  • On Alex Morgan: Andonovski and Markgraf aren’t closing the door on Alex Morgan returning in time for the Olympics. Markgraf even said that, as a former player, she said that she gave Morgan the contact information for the trainer she had when she came back from having twins. However, both said that the focus right now is that Morgan has a healthy baby girl.
  • Player input: Markgraf didn’t just talk to current national team players, but also former national team players. “… I talked to coaches that had worked with them, or have been there for their coaching education,” Markgraf said. She also said that results speak for themselves and looking for development among players was a key factor in deciding on Andonovski.
  • International USWNT players: Andonovski said that internationally-based players are involved in expanding the player pool. In the end, he wants players that will make the team better and win games. He’ll also look toward college soccer, as well. “We’ll do research to make it possible,” Andonovski said.
  • Early December ID camp: Andonovski said that he will indeed have a discovery camp. His goal is to find players that produce in the NWSL who can and, as he said, “hopefully” will feature for the national team. Keep in mind, Andonovski coached for seven years in NWSL. He knows the player pool well.

What’s Next? 

“I’m just looking forward to the first day on the field with the players and staff.”

He’ll get that chance in just a few days as players report for camp. The USWNT will host Sweden on Nov. 7 in Columbus, Ohio. U.S. Soccer said over 18,000 tickets have been sold for the competition. Meanwhile, on Nov. 10, the USWNT will host fellow CONCACAF team Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida.


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