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Is USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski on the hot seat?

Brad Smith/ ISI Photos

The United States women’s national team will not be playing for gold after losing to Canada 1-0 in the Olympic semifinal on Monday. Canada eked past the USWNT on a VAR-reviewed penalty, defeating the U.S. for the first time in 20 years.

The national team’s lackluster semifinal performance against Canada was indicative of their play all tournament.

“I feel like we haven’t had our joy,” Megan Rapinoe said after the loss.

Attention now turns to coach Vlatko Andonovski, who came into the tournament unbeaten during his year and half as the USWNT head coach. A pre-tournament New York Times profile even referred to him as “The Coach Who Can’t Lose.” But in his first real test at the helm of the USWNT, Andonovski’s squad drastically underperformed, leaving the new coach exposed to some heavy (and legitimate) criticism.

Here are the three questions Andonovski will have to answer after the Tokyo Olympics.

1. Was the roster too old? 

Andonovski’s decision-making first faced scrutiny after the final Tokyo roster was announced in June. The Olympic squad relied heavily on an aging veteran core, with 17 of the 18 players a part of the 2019 World Cup-winning team. The average age of the team was 30 years old. Detractors immediately questioned Andonovski’s commitment to experience and his reluctance to include new talent, especially in a tournament as physically grueling as the Olympics.

Lynn Williams, who was initially named to the Tokyo roster as an alternate, only joined the full team after the International Olympic Committee approved the expansion of soccer rosters to 22 players. The North Carolina Courage striker proved to be one of the only bright spots in the USWNT’s attack, notching a goal and an assist in the quarterfinal against the Netherlands. Had the Olympic organizers not granted roster expansion, Williams wouldn’t have even taken the field in Tokyo.

Williams started her second game in a row against Canada, an implicit admission of error in Andonovski’s initial scouting.

2.  Why was the USWNT’s subbing such a mess?

Andonovski’s rotation of players also drew consistent criticism throughout the tournament. The coach sometimes opted for wholesale line changes, swapping out the front three of Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Lynn Williams for Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe in the 60th minute of Monday’s semifinal, even as Williams was starting to create chances. The hockey-like line changes up top also left a struggling midfield sub-less until the 80th minute, when Sam Mewis finally checked into the game against Canada.

Andonovski’s rotation cycles added to questions of chemistry, attacking consistency and continuity, as the USWNT never seemed to find its rhythm.

Many observers, us included, were clamoring for Press and Williams to play up top together. The two wingers are key to the USWNT’s high press and ability to stretch opponents’ backlines. But Williams and Press never took the pitch together, leaving an opportunity to overload Canada’s defense unexploited.

3. What happened to the offensive innovation?

With Andonovski’s hire came the promise of new and innovative offensive tactics. There was a lot of talk leading up to the Olympics about a sophisticated offensive approach, a deviation from the USWNT’s more direct style of play. That promise, however, never came to fruition. The United States was shut out of three games in their five Olympic contests, and the team’s attack never fully clicked.

Part of the issue stemmed from a disjointed midfield that failed to facilitate offensive chances. Against Canada, the USWNT’s first shot on goal didn’t come until the 65th minute.

NWSL Analitica pointed to another shortcoming: The USWNT relied too heavily on its flanks. Most of the team’s chances came from frantic crosses into the box that didn’t connect with any runners.

Andonovski will surely have to address the breakdown of the team’s offense and the lack of strong build-up play through the midfield after the tournament.

Whether or not Andonovski remains in the hot seat may be determined by the team’s performance in the upcoming bronze-medal match. A loss could add to the mounting pressure on the USWNT coach, while a win may buy him some time.

The USWNT will face Australia on Thursday for a spot on the Olympic podium.

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

Arsenal Women Confirm US Tour, Preseason Friendlies

Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy battles with Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea at the 2023/24 FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
The last time Chelsea and Arsenal faced off, the Gunners took home the FA Women's League Cup. (Copa/Getty Images)

Arsenal announced on Monday that it will join Chelsea for a series of preseason friendlies in the US in August. 

Arsenal will be based in Washington, DC from August 15th through August 26th. The Gunners are scheduled to play the Washington Spirit on August 18th, followed by a match with fellow WSL team Chelsea on August 25th. It’s the first time that the two London clubs will meet each other on this side of the Atlantic. 

Chelsea had previously announced their game against Gotham FC, confirming reports from ESPN that surfaced last month.

"We always want to create the best conditions for our teams to prepare and perform at their best in pre-season," said Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar in a statement. "This gives our players an opportunity to play and train in a new environment, in front of our supporters around the world."

Both Arsenal and Chelsea tout rosters full of international talent — formidable opponents for two equally stacked NWSL teams gearing up for postseason action. Arsenal is home to accomplished England nationals Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and backheel goal-scorer Alessia Russo alongside Ireland captain Katie McCabe and USWNT defender Emily Fox.

The games are set to be streamed live for free on DAZN.

Arsenal's US tour builds off of a trip to Melbourne, Australia at the tail end of the 2023/24 season, where they beat A-League All Stars women 1-0 in front of 42,120 fans.

US Women Defeat NC Courage to Claim $1 Million TST Prize

TST team US Women celebrate a semifinal win
USWNT legend Heather O’Reilly led the 7-on-7 side to victory at Monday's TST championship. (The Soccer Tournament)

The US Women 7-on-7 team won the first-ever edition of The Soccer Tournament’s women’s bracket, taking home the $1 million prize.

The TST concluded on Monday, with Ali Krieger and Heather O’Reilly leading the US Women past the North Carolina Courage’s 7-on-7 team to a 6-3 victory.

"I mean, at that moment, you're not thinking right? Like, I just saw the ball come to me and i was able to put it in the back of the net," said game-winning goal-scorer Talia DellaPeruta. "And it was just... everything kind of stopped for a second. When it went in, I just could not believe it. Like, that was the winning goal, everything that we had worked for this whole weekend.

"I'm just so grateful that I can contribute in that way and to be surrounded by such legends on the field. I mean, to be able to get us over that line, it's the best feeling I've ever felt. This is the best day ever."

Each team member will take home $40,000, with the winnings split equally amongst the 25-person group. First launched in 2023, TST is now the world’s highest-stakes women’s soccer tournament, offering equal $1 million prizes for both the men’s and women’s champions.

"Every single person, staff, players — we deserve it. One million dollars!" O'Reilly said in a team huddle after the victory.

USA Basketball Reportedly Finalizes 2024 Olympic Roster

Jewell Loyd #4 of the United States and Breanna Stewart #10 of the United States celebrate the teams victory during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Japan V USA basketball final
This will be the first year since 1976 that USA Women's Basketball travels to the Summer Games without a single player under 26 years old. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The women’s basketball roster for the Paris Olympics has reportedly been decided, with star WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark left off the 12-player roster.

Three first-time Olympians are slated to join the team: the Sun's Alyssa Thomas, the Mercury's Kahleah Copper, and the Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu. Meanwhile Clark, Brionna Jones, and Aliyah Boston are reportedly on the short-list for an injury replacement should any of the rostered players not make it to Paris, according to The Athletic.

Chelsea Gray and Brittney Griner, who were both named to the team, are currently in the process of returning from injury.

"I'm excited for the girls that are on the team," Clark told reporters Sunday. "I know it's the most competitive team in the world and I know it could have gone either way — me being on the team or me not being on the team. I'm going to be rooting them on to win gold. I was a kid that grew up watching the Olympics, so it will be fun to watch them.

"Honestly, no disappointment. It just gives me something to work for — it's a dream... Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

The reported Olympic lineup leans heavily on its veterans, with Diana Taurasi preparing for her sixth Olympic Games — a new all-time international basketball record. In fact, not a single player under the age of 26 was listed, a noteworthy departure from previous years.

In every Olympic roster dating back to 1976, at least two players under the age of 25 made it onto the US women's basketball team. Nancy Lieberman, the youngest player to ever compete for the US Olympic basketball team, was just 18 when she joined the 1976 Summer Games. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, WNBA stars Napheesa Collier and A’ja Wilson were both rostered at 24 years old.

Clark said USA Basketball officials called to tell her the news before it reached the press, the same approach they used for all other Olympic hopefuls. But according to Fever head coach Christie Sides, what some might see as a snub could also act as the catalyst for improved performance in the future.

"The thing she said was, 'Hey coach, they woke a monster,' which I thought was awesome," Sides said.

Clark also expressed excitement about the potential to get some much-needed rest during the Olympic break.

"Absolutely, it's going to be really nice," Clark said. "I've loved competing every single second. But it's going to be a great month for my body to get rest, get healthy and just get a little time away from basketball and the craziness of everything that's been going on. And just find some peace and quiet for myself.

"But then additionally, it's a great opportunity for us to work and get better. A great opportunity for myself to get in the weight room. To work on the court, at things that I want to get better at that I maybe didn't have time [to] going from college to the pro season."

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