As the U.S. Women’s National Team follows its 2019 FIFA Word Cup win, Vlatko Andonovski has some big shoes to fill as he reprises the role of former coach Jill Ellis, who’s the winningest coach in USWNT history.
With his debut game in Columbus, the USWNT gave him a 3-2 win against Sweden in front of 20,903 fans. The game is a good start for the new head coach, especially with numerous injuries at the start of the tour that left many starters off the roster for the game. Even with the added injuries, Andonovski didn’t buckle under pressure. Here’s what fans can expect from the new coach in upcoming games:
Carli Lloyd is free
Starting the game with the captain’s armband is nothing new for the veteran player. However, under the coaching staff of Ellis, Lloyd saw her minutes cut, typically coming in at the end of the game. Under the new direction of Andonovski, Lloyd found herself playing all 90 minutes of the game in Columbus, scoring within the sixth minute of the game and then creating an assist for forward Christen Press. That start looks good for Lloyd, and fans can expect to see her playing a lot more with Andonovski coaching.
A younger team will be starting more
With many looming retirements, pregnancies and injuries, it is no surprise that Andonovski pulled up inexperienced national team players. Thursday’s game saw Lynn Williams, Andi Sullivan, Imani Dorsey and Margaret Purce make some gameplay appearances. It is no surprise that Andonovski is pulling up no or very few capped players going into the Olympic Qualifiers.
However, he has a lot of work to do with a young team. The second half of the game saw many issues with communication as well as chemistry on the field. Both of Sweden’s goals came after the 70th minute with the younger team on the field. If Andonovski wants a good run at the Olympics, he has to start mixing young players with more veteran players in order to create better chemistry out on the field.
Pushing players to the next level
Ellis comfortably sat with the same starting lineup throughout the majority of her time with the USWNT. Andonovski could bring some change and give many players a chance. Overlooked and underrated players like Press and Emily Sonnett got their starts during Thursday’s game, which isn’t surprising with Kelley O’Hara hurt and Alex Morgan pregnant.
However, both Press and Sonnett proved why they deserve to be playing more minutes: Sonnett made a crucial save with a slide tackle, and Press scored the second goal of the game.
With a new coach like Andonovski, overlooked players can be expected to be pushed to the next level and possibly even be starters for the upcoming Olympics. Overall, the new era with Andonovski is going to prove whether or not the USWNT can stay at number one.