US Soccer thanked Vlatko Andonovski for his four-year tenure and then named his temporary successor after accepting Andonovski’s resignation as coach of the women’s national team on Thursday. The moves come less than two weeks after USA’s elimination from the World Cup in the round of 16, the team’s earliest elimination from a tournament it has won four times.
“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Vlatko for his dedication to the women’s national team,” US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “We know he will continue to contribute to the growth of women’s football in the United States and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Twila Kilgore will be the team’s interim head coach while US Soccer begins searching for a permanent replacement. Kilgore (formerly Kaufman) has been an assistant coach for the past year and a half and in 2021 became the first US-born woman to receive US Soccer’s professional coaching license. Kilgore spent two and a half years as an assistant coach with the Houston Dash and 15 years in college as a head coach and assistant coach at UC Davis and Pepperdine.
The USA, who have already qualified for next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris, will start preparing for this tournament with two friendlies next month.
Andonovski, who won two NWSL championships as Kansas City FC coach, took over from the USA team in fall 2019, just months after USA won their second straight World Cup under Jill Ellis. And though he went 51-5-9 over four years, two of those losses came at the Tokyo Olympics, where the US settled for a bronze medal. The USA won just one of four tries at this summer’s World Cup before being eliminated on penalties by Sweden.
“It has been the honor of my life to coach the talented, hard-working players of USWNT for the past four years,” Andonovski said in a statement released by US Soccer. “I’m very optimistic about the future of this programme, especially given all the young players who have been given opportunities in recent years and who will undoubtedly be leaders and be important players in the future.”
“While we are all disappointed with the result of this year’s World Cup, I am immensely proud of the progress this team has made, the mutual support and inspiration it has given to players around the world.” -Football Association will always be grateful for giving me the chance to coach this remarkable team.”
The federation has yet to announce a possible successor, but the chance to coach the four-time world champions’ USA team, which is historically the most successful and well-funded team in women’s football, will draw a long list of applicants. One of the most attractive candidates is England coach Sarina Wiegman, who led the Lionesses to a European Championship last year and is taking them to the World Cup finals this year. However, she is under contract in England and should she wish to leave, a buyout will be difficult and expensive.
Other options include OL Reign coach Laura Harvey, a three-time NWSL Coach of the Year who narrowly lost to Andonovski in a coach search four years ago, and Australian manager Tony Gustavsson, a US assistant under Ellis and Pia Sundhage. Gustavsson led the Matildas to the semi-finals of this summer’s home World Cup and is under contract with the team until the Paris Olympics.
“Vlatko has worked tirelessly for this team and has been a strong and positive leader for our women’s program. We’re grateful for everything he’s contributed,” said US Soccer’s athletic director Matt Crocker, who will lead the search for a new coach. “It’s imperative that we continue to evolve and innovate, and we’re excited about the path that lies ahead.”