Getty Images

Kansas City Current announced former U.S. women's national team coach Vlatko Andonovski as sporting director and head coach Monday. He resigned from his national team post in late August after the USWNT was eliminated in the 2023 FIFA World Cup knockout rounds. Reports circulated on Friday connecting him to the new roles after the club parted ways with interim head coach Caroline Sjoblom

Kansas City faithful are already familiar with Andonovski. He was a player with the Kansas City Comets in the early 2000s and coached the team in 2010. He was later named NWSL head coach of FC Kansas City, the Current's predecessor, and won back-to-back NWSL titles in 2014 and '15. He has won two NWSL Coach of the Year honors and is one of three NWSL coaches to manage in seven playoff games.

Even those who are less familiar with him can cite his extensive experience in the league as a benefit for the club aiming to bounce back from a less than stellar season. The franchise is banking on that expertise to turn the team around with a playoff return on his homecoming. 

"We've talked many times about our goal to be the best women's football club in the world. Everything that we do has that ambition in mind. For me, though, it's even more exciting when the best in the world is right in your backyard and the perfect fit for the club," said co-owner Angie Long in a press conference.

The Current are just a year removed from their 2022 NWSL Championship appearance, but finished in 11th place in the 12-team league, after what many viewed as a busy offseason that included several newly acquired players. They targeted the league's first-ever free agency period to add more pieces, landing the most sought-after target, Brazilian international Debinha.

They added more internationals to the mix in Hanna Glas, two-time World Cup winner Morgan Gautrat, and NWSL veteran Vanessa DiBernardo among others. But the season didn't pan out the way they had anticipated, dealing with season-long injuries, and coaching change just three weeks into the 2023 season. 

The club hasalso  made headlines around the resources they're putting into the organization. They're set to play the 2024 season in CPKC Stadium, the first-ever facility built specifically for an NWSL team. 

"He has an endless work ethic. Strives to not only win but also inspire and facilitate the development of his players. We believe he is the right choice for an organization as we work to win championships. We can't wait for him to begin his work toward our goal of being the best women's football club in the world. And truly we believe this is the next phase of the Kansas City current," said co-owner Chris Long.

Free agency is just one of the ways the league has changed since Andonovski last coached in it.  As new head coach and now sporting director, Andonovski said he's ready to be proactive in the dual roles, even if it means making hard decisions.

"I don't know [if] you have a choice once you join this organization, it feels like you have no choice but to be bold and to be brave with the decision that you're making," Andonovski quipped during his press conference.

"I think that is this ownership group has shown us that in the in the past. I remember when they went to start this team a few years back, and they only had a couple of months before the season started, and we all thought it was impossible. They made it happen. Then when the [training] complex was built, we thought that that was a little ambitious, but it happened. Next stadium came, and we were all laughing, and now we're gonna be playing in a stadium that is specifically built for this team. So, I think that going forward as a coach, I go with the mindset that I will be expected to make brave decisions. I will be expected to make difficult decisions, and face those decisions and challenges face on, and embrace those challenges. "

Andonovski further explained that he intends to have a collaborative working relationship with general manager Camile Ashton. He's also eager to work with the club on youth development as the league continues to see more and more players making the league to the professional level at younger ages. 

"I really like in some of the conversations that we've had when I talk about the vision and the future of this club, is how much they care about the youth development and the pathway to professional soccer. That really excites me because that will be one of my responsibilities. To create that pathway and help with the development of the young players and how to become young professionals."

The offseason is in full swing for non-playoff teams. Andonovski and the club will look ahead to the free agency period, with pending free agents already able to begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. The upcoming 2024 season will feature another double expansion draft as the league welcomes two new teams into the mix with Utah Royals FC and Bay FC.