U.S. Soccer and U.S. women's head coach Vlatko Andonovski have parted ways, the federation announced on Thursday. The decision comes just a few weeks after the senior national team program was eliminated in the round of 16 in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. It was the earliest World Cup exit for the squad in program history. The federation announced that assistant Twila Kilgore will serve as the interim head coach.
"All of us at U.S. Soccer thank Vlatko for his dedication to our women's national team over the past four years," said U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker in a statement. "Vlatko worked tirelessly for this team and has been a strong and positive leader for our women's program. We're grateful for everything he has contributed to U.S. Soccer and know he has a bright future in the sport."
He took over the team in October 2019 after former head coach Jill Ellis stepped away with two World Cup wins in 2015 and 2019. His contract was originally set to run through the end of the year following the 2023 World Cup. During the tournament, he received criticism for his absent tactical adjustments, questionable substitutions and overall lack of player rotation. He ends his tenure with a 51-5-9 record after four years in charge.
It's a high-profile job that comes with nothing but pressure. So despite Andonovski's charge to widen the player pool, introduce younger players and coach a return to the Olympic podium with a bronze medal finish -- a historic round of 16 exit at the World Cup was unlikely to be rewarded with a contract renewal. Since the USWNT elimination, there has been a general consensus that the program must move on from Andonovski, and for now it's Kilgore at the helm.
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Kilgore was an assistant with Andovoski since February 2022, and in 2021 she became the first American-born woman to earn U.S. Soccer's Pro Coaching License. She previously spent numerous training camps coaching with the U.S. youth women's national teams and made the leap to the USWNT assistant coach position after two seasons in NWSL as an assistant with Houston Dash. Prior to her time in the NWSL, she spent five years as head coach at the University of California-Davis and 10 seasons as a coaching staff member at Pepperdine University.
U.S. Soccer didn't announce a deadline for a new coaching hire, but the timeline isn't convenient with the Concacaf W Gold Cup in February and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris next summer. Kilgore will get her first games as interim in September. She will lead the team in friendlies against South Africa in Chicago and Cincinnati. No other communication from U.S.Ssoccer indicated the next steps for other members of Andonovski's staff.
Despite the spotlight on the position, there will no doubt befor a chance to coach the four-time World Cup winners. Where the federation will look remains a mystery as they previously tabbed NWSL for a replacement in 2019 with candidates coming down to two long-time NWSL coaches Andonovski and Laura Harvey. Eyes will be on the federation to see if they will think outside of the box for the next potential coach.