Vlatko Andonovski and the USWNT Cannot Lose


Andonovski immediately admits the accusations. He knows his players don’t need to be taught how to win. He also knows that most of the time they don’t need to fuel their competitive fire. But even in this hyper-competitive environment – Carli Lloyd said there’s been a constant battle for squad places and game time during the tournament years.cutthroat” – to demand more, one has to set the bar and then raise it again and again.

“I do it so as not to hurt them,” Andonovski said of his candid assessment of his players. “I’m doing this because I’m trying to help.”

For a US team eager to regain its once well-deserved Olympic title, there is little time to hold hands. Andonovski’s job comes with such high expectations that he was fired shortly after one of his predecessors lost. One game out of 55. Another, Jill Ellis, heard persistent calls to fire even when leading the team to consecutive World Cup victories.

Andonovski knew all this When appointed 21 months ago, right after their second consecutive World Cup title. His mission was to take on a team full of popular, elite pros – most of them on the wrong side of the 30 – and instantly re-equip without offending anyone and yes, winning and preferably losing every trophy. a game.

No.

Andonovski used the word “easy” four times to describe these challenges. To be clear, “I knew what I was getting myself into,” he said in an interview in his backyard on a sunny day in June.

And in March 2020, he felt he was in a great place: His team had just beaten Japan, and he thought he had reached the top just in time for the Olympics, which took only months back then. Then came the pandemic, and Andonovski, buzzing with energy even as she sat perfectly still, was reduced to meticulously preparing in an empty upstairs bedroom of her Kansas City home, an office limited to occasional training rather than virtual meetings with her team. camping and games.

His preparation in that spare room—everyone who knows Andonovski has a story or five about his meticulous nature—will be on display Wednesday when the US opens the Olympics, where Andonovski (22-0-1) was undefeated. Against Sweden at Tokyo Stadium. The team comes back in strong form and in the role of tournament favourite.



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