U.S. Soccer Tabs NWSL Coach Vlatko Andonovski To Lead USWNT
The U.S. Soccer Federation has formally introduced new USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, who "clearly has the federation's support," as his "long-term contract" includes the '23 Women's World Cup, according to Grant Wahl of SI.com. The hiring process for Andonovski, who most recently coached the NWSL Reign FC, "appears to have been a significant upgrade" from the one the USSF used to hire USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter. USWNT GM Kate Markgraf, who led the search for a new coach, said that she "interviewed several candidates and spoke to dozens of stakeholders before settling on two finalists" -- Andonovski and NWSL Utah Royals coach Laura Harvey. Markgraf then "involved a group that included" USSF Sporting Dir Earnie Stewart and VP Cindy Cone to "grill the finalists in Chicago." Andonovski "won their approval." Coaching the USWNT "isn't just about pleasing the players," but it "doesn't hurt for Andonovski to have their support considering the last two U.S. coaches both had to deal with uprisings by veteran players to get the coaches fired" (SI.com, 10/28). PRO SOCCER USA's Pardeep Cattry wrote the "next several months will not just test Andonovski," but also Markgraf. The team's first GM, Markgraf was hired in August with her "first task to hire" former USWNT coach Jill Ellis' successor. Andonovski's success will "in part go hand in hand" with Markgraf's (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 10/28).
READY FOR THE BIG STAGE: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour notes Andonovski "doesn't have international coaching experience." However, his time in the NWSL has "made that less of a factor." Andonovski "knows the players he will be coaching as well as those his teams will be facing." Current members of the USWNT reportedly "lobbied for his hiring, and it was telling that in the moments after he was hired," the USSF "posted quotes praising him" from Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long, who played for him in Seattle, as well as Becky Sauerbrunn, who played for Andonovski in K.C. (USA TODAY, 10/29). Andonovski in the NWSL was "widely lauded for both working well with veteran players" and "developing young talent" (ESPN.com, 10/28).
TWITTER REAX: Fox' Alexi Lalas tweeted Andonovski has "lots of support from #USWNT players." ESPN's Julie Foudy: "This is no easy transition w the Olympic qualifiers just months away, but I like that Vlatko Andonovski, the new USWNT coach, comes into the job well loved by players for his knowledge of game & also his ability to manage people. That is huge." USSF President Carlos Cordeiro: "I cannot imagine a better match for our @USWNT at this moment than reigning @NWSL Coach of the Year. ... Welcome to @ussoccer, Vlatko!" Reign FC: "Back-to-back NWSL Playoff appearances, 2019 NWSL Coach of the Year, and always in our 💙🖤. Congrats Vlatko Andonovski and best of luck with the #USWNT!"