New York, NY – The worst kept secret in U.S. sports was revealed today when U.S.Soccer President Carlos Cordiero and United States Women’s Soccer General Manager Kate Markgraf officially unveiled 2019 NWSL Coach of the Year Vlatko Andonovski as the successor to Jill Ellis.
Markgraf, who left the broadcast booth to take on the responsibility of running the U.S. women’s program, including replacing Ellis, had this to say, “From the moment I came aboard, the main focus has been on hiring a new U.S. Women’s National Team coach.”
“We identified the qualities we thought were most important for this unique position, we talked to quite a few people in the women’s soccer community domestically and around the world, and in the end, Vlatko was the best fit with his experience with elite players, how he sees the game, how he coaches the game and manages players, and his overall personality and ability to take on a job of this magnitude.”
USWNT coaching selection process
High Press Soccer was curious about the process and who was in the room during the final interviews, so we asked. “It involved Earnie Stewart, the Sporting Director,” Markgraf began, “and Earnie had already gone through the process once, and was valuable support throughout the entire hiring search process. Cindy Parlow Cone, who was the technical expert and then Barry Paulos from coaching education, who has worked with many coaches both here and in Belgium.”
Markgraf described a process that involved, “looking and quizzing him (Andonovski) and quizzing the other candidate. Putting different scenarios in front of them to see how they can think on their feet in a stressful situation when they know they are going to be evaluated and also the quality behind their answers.”
Andonovski won a pair of NWSL Championships with now defunct FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015. He has been named Coach of the Year twice, this season with Reign FC, and in 2013 with FCKC.
Andonovski had been widely tipped to win the position but he clearly understands the history behind his new job, noting, “All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I’m committed to working very hard to continue to move this program forward.”
NWSL success helped secure the job
Andonovski is the first coach to come to the USWNT job directly from the NWSL. The Yugoslavia born Macedonian-American was sure to give a tip of the cap to the league.
“The NWSL has been tremendous in my development,” Andonovski said. “They have done such a great job creating a platform, not just for players but for coaches to develop and improve their knowledge and understanding of the game.”
Andonovski emphasized the tight bond between the league and the national team, saying, “ I have already had numerous conversations with the coaches in the markets and we are all in agreement that we are going to collaborate as much as possible and ultimately we are all going to fight and struggle with the same goal.”
Andonovich explained, “obviously they have the first goal for them is to win games and to win championships in the league but we are all going to fight towards the ultimate goal, which is winning World Cups and Olympics.”
Andonovski does not have all that much time to build towards that Olympics in Tokyo next July and he will take his first steps towards that test very soon, with a pair of friendlies in Columbus, Ohio versus Sweden on November 7 and three days later in Jacksonville, Florida against Costa Rica.
About Vlatko Andonovski
Vlatko Andonovski is a 43 year-old originally from Yugoslavia.
He came to the US in 2000 to play for the Wichita Wings in the now defunct NPSL. He’s been a full-time manager since 2013, first with the Kansas City Comets (indoor) and then with the NWSL’s FC Kansas City. He won titles with FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015. After that club folded, he took over Reign FC in Seattle in 2018.
Reign finished 2019 in fourth place in the NWSL with a 10-8-6 record. They were third last year with an 11-8-5 record.
With Andonovski has a USSF Pro License, he has no international coaching experience.