U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s contract expires at the end of this year, but his mind is on his players after Sunday’s World Cup exit.
“Right now all I think about is the players,” he said. “I see the players in tears, and it hurts, and that’s all I can think about.”
When asked about his future with the team multiple times after the 5-4 shootout loss to Sweden, Andonovski said it would be “selfish” to think about himself in that moment.
“I think it’s selfish to think about me, my future, what I’m gonna do, when we have 20-year-old players going through the moment, going through this situation,” he said. “I want be there for them. I love them. I love them all. And they’re my players, but they’re my friends. We spent four years together. They got their first caps with me. They got their first national team call-ups with me. We spend times, tough times, good times. So I don’t want to see them like that. That’s all I think about.”
Andonovski took over as USWNT head coach in 2019, succeeding Jill Ellis, who had led the team to the 2015 and 2019 World Cup titles. In two major tournaments (the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and now the World Cup) under Andonovski, the team has just four wins in 10 matches.
Following the USWNT’s World Cup elimination, U.S. Soccer announced that it “will conduct a review to identify areas of improvement and determine our next step.”
“As we look ahead, we embrace the hard work necessary to become champions again,” the federation said in its statement.
U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker is expected to address the media later this week. Andonovski likely will be at the center of the questions for Crocker. But throughout Andonovski’s time as head coach, he has never focused on his own job security, he said Sunday.
“I never came into this job, never came in the locker room with the mindset or do something to save my job,” he said. “I always came in to do my job to prepare this team to represent the country in the best possible manner to prepare this team for the challenges that they have in front and to prepare them to represent our country in the best possible manner. That was the only thing that was in my focus.
“And it won’t change. It will never change. And I think that no matter what happens in the future, that’s how I will approach [it], whether it’s this job or any other job.”
And he believes that while this World Cup elimination marks a low point for the USWNT, its young players are cause for hope.
“The future is bright,” he said. “Even though it didn’t end up the way we want, it is huge experience for some of these young players.
“Obviously, in the moment, it’s a tough moment. It’s tough moment for them, a tough moment for everyone. But the same time, I know that they will use this moment as a motivation in the future and not to go through the same thing ever again.”