Vlatko Andonovski has stepped down as coach of the United States women’s national team, U.S. Soccer confirmed on Thursday, after the four-time champion produced its worst-ever performance at a Women’s World Cup, exiting in the round of 16.
The former National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) coach took the reins in 2019 after the U.S. collected a second consecutive world title but it has failed to keep that momentum going.
He led the team to bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 but injuries hindered a largely inexperienced U.S. side at this year’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia and it lost to Sweden 5-4 on penalties in the knockout stage.
“It’s been the honour of my life to coach the talented, hard-working players of the USWNT for the past four years,” Andonovski, 46, said in a statement.
“While we are all disappointed by the outcome at this year’s World Cup, I am immensely proud of the progress this team has made, the support they’ve shown for each other, and the inspiration they’ve provided for players around the world.”
Multiple U.S. media outlets had reported the news of his departure on Wednesday.
Assistant coach Twila Kilgore will take the interim head coach role while U.S. Soccer searches for a permanent replacement. The team have a pair of friendlies against South Africa set for Sept. 21 and 24.
“Vlatko worked tirelessly for this team and has been a strong and positive leader for our women’s program,” said U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker.
“We’re grateful for everything he has contributed to U.S. Soccer and know he has a bright future in the sport.”
Jill Ellis, who was in charge of the U.S. winning campaigns in 2015 and 2019, told reporters in Sydney on Thursday that while a search for a replacement should include diverse candidates, the new coach’s sex should not be the decisive factor.
“What I would hope in this process is it’s robust, it’s diverse, but at the end of the day, this is a critical hire,” said Ellis. “And I think it has to be the right person.”
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