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U.S. women's soccer coach Vlatko Andonovski leaving after World Cup loss

Andonovski was named head coach of the U.S. Women's National Team in 2019. The team suffered a disappointing knockout at the World Cup this month.
FILE - U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski stands on the field during a FIFA Women's World Cup team practice at Bay City Park in Auckland, New Zealand, July 23, 2023. Andonovski has resigned, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The move comes less than two weeks after the Americans were knocked out of the Women's World Cup earlier than ever before.
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski at a Women's World Cup team practice at Bay City Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 23.Abbie Parr / AP file

A little over a week after the U.S. women’s national soccer team was bounced from the World Cup, head coach Vlatko Andonovski is stepping down, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Thursday.

“All of us at U.S. Soccer thank Vlatko for his dedication to our Women’s National Team over the past four years,” U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker said.

“Vlatko worked tirelessly for this team and has been a strong and positive leader for our women’s program. We’re grateful for everything he has contributed to U.S. Soccer and know he has a bright future in the sport,” Crocker said.

Andonovski called it an “honor” to have been the team’s coach over the last four years in the news release announcing his departure. He added that he was optimistic for the team’s future, noting the young additions to the team who he expects will grow into strong leaders.

"While we are all disappointed by the outcome at this year’s World Cup, I am immensely proud of the progress this team has made, the support they’ve shown for each other, and the inspiration they’ve provided for players around the world," Andonovski said.

Twila Kilgore was named interim head coach while the search for Andonovski's replacement is underway, the federation said. Kilgore was assistant coach for the national team for the past year and a half.

Andonovski is leaving after the national team suffered a disappointing and unexpected early exit Aug. 6 from the World Cup.

It tied Portugal and then had face to Sweden, won 5-4 on penalties, knocking the U.S. from the competition.

Andonovski, 44, who was born in Skopje, North Macedonia, was named coach in October 2019. He was the team’s ninth head coach in its 38-year history.

He had been a head coach in the National Women’s Soccer League for seven years — five with FC Kansas City and two with Reign FC, U.S. Soccer has said.

Before that, he played professionally in Europe and then in the U.S. He played for the Wichita Wings in Kansas and then for the Kansas City Comets, the California Cougars and the Philadelphia Kixx, according to his bio.

Andonovski said after the loss to Sweden that he was devastated for his team, which was hoping to win its third consecutive World Cup title.

“I see the players in tears; it hurts,” he said at a postgame news conference, during which at times he seemed on the verge of tears himself.

Andonovski said, “I love them all. ... They’re my friends.”

Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis as coach. Ellis announced she would step down after the U.S. won the last World Cup, which was held in 2019. Under Andonovski, the team won the bronze medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.