The U.S. women’s national team faces an uncertain future as the program hunts for its next head coach, starting midfielder Andi Sullivan said Thursday.
Sullivan played every minute of the USWNT’s four matches at the 2023 World Cup, which ended in a disappointing Round of 16 exit for the defending champions. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski resigned after the elimination, starting the timer on the search for his successor with the 2024 Olympics just 11 months away.
“You need to get someone quickly in order to have as much time to prepare, but you also don’t want to rush and make a decision that may not be the best option, especially for the long term,” Sullivan said. “There’s a lot of work to do from now to the Olympics. And there’s a lot of work to do for years and years and years to come.
“So it depends on what strategy they’re going to take with that, and it’s all interesting stuff. So the future is uncertain, for all of us.”
Under Andonovski, Sullivan cemented herself as the starting defensive midfielder. But a new head coach could bring a new formation, a new style of play and new personnel preferences.
Still, the change at the head coaching position was an expected one after the USWNT underperformed in Australia and New Zealand. While the team felt prepared for its matches, that didn’t translate onto the pitch, backup goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury said.
“I like Vlatko. He’s a good coach. And I felt we were prepared for the games, but there was clearly a disconnect between our preparation and then what actually was executed in the game,” she said. “That’s not good enough for the U.S. women’s national team. So you have got to make changes, and hopefully we can get things right before the Olympics.”
Sullivan and Kingsbury are not the only players who haven spoken about the team’s World Cup loss and its plans for the future.
Their Washington Spirit teammate Ashley Sanchez, who made the World Cup roster but did not receive any playing time, has said that her role did not match what Andonovski had told her heading into the tournament.
“I felt for her because I know her skill level and ability and that she can really be a game changer,” Kingsbury said. “She handled it as well as she could have.”
Back in the NWSL, Sanchez showed off her game-changing ability, as she scored just 40 seconds into her return for Washington.
“Revenge mode was coming,” Spirit coach Mark Parsons said. “It came really quick, and I think that helps. Being involved, she’s now feeling good.”
Lindsey Horan, who served as the USWNT co-captain for the World Cup, has said not all players were not set up to succeed Down Under.
“We did not get the best out of every single individual,” she said. “I don’t think everyone was fully prepared. … Could I have done more to help those players? Because I don’t think we got the absolute best out of some of them because of the way that we were set up.”