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Vlatko Andonovski officially steps down as USWNT head coach

(Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation became official Thursday, as U.S. Soccer announced his departure.

Reports emerged late Wednesday of Andonovski’s intent to resign. USWNT assistant coach Twila Kilgore is set to serve as interim head coach for upcoming friendlies against South Africa on Sept. 21 and Sept. 24.

It brings to an end Andonovski’s four-year tenure, which began in 2019, when he took the reins from back-to-back World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis. In that time, he struggled to manage the roster, which was undergoing a transition from veterans to the new wave of youth talent. The World Cup put that struggle on full display, ending in the USWNT’s earliest exit ever in a World Cup tournament. That, combined with a bronze-medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, left the writing on the wall for Andonovski in terms of his future with the team.

“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,” Andonovski said in the news release announcing his departure. “I will be forever thankful to the U.S. Soccer Federation for giving me the chance to coach this remarkable team.”

Despite a record of 51-5-9, his record at major tournaments was just 3-2-5.

During the World Cup run, which ended with a record-long 238-minute scoring drought from the USWNT, he faced criticism for the team’s inability to finish its chances and for his lack of substitutions.

In the weeks since the USWNT’s elimination, U.S. Soccer reportedly spoke with players, coaches, staff and Andonovski himself, ESPN reported. USSF sporting director Matt Crocker led the efforts. In the end, it was decided by both parties that Andonovski would not return. His contract was set to expire at the end of 2023.

“It’s been the honor of my life to coach the talented, hard-working players of the USWNT for the past four years,” Andonovski said. “I’m very optimistic for the future of this program, especially considering all the young players that got opportunities over the past few years who will no doubt be leaders and impact players moving forward.”

The future of USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf is up in the air as well, ESPN reported.