Mary Altaffer/AP

By Nancy Armour |

Congratulations, Vlatko Andonovski. Don’t screw it up.

The longtime Nationwide Girls’s Soccer League coach now has what’s arguably the hardest job in sports activities – no less than till Invoice Belichick retires. Launched Monday as the brand new head coach of the U.S. girls’s group, all Andonovski has to do is observe Jill Ellis, who received two World Cup titles and extra video games than anybody else in this system’s historical past.

Earlier than Ellis, Pia Sundhage led the People to Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012, and a spot within the 2011 World Cup closing. Tony DiCicco received World Cup and Olympic titles. Getting the image?

“What this group has completed, and what Jill has completed, I feel is completely superb,” Andonovski stated Monday at a information convention in New York. “Jill was employed to win one World Cup and she or he received two. It simply pushes the requirements even increased and made the entire job much more anxious.

“However for me, I used to be very effectively conscious of it.”

The U.S. gamers typically discuss in regards to the tradition of their group, and the way it’s impressed upon them from their first youth group call-up. It is a program that has produced Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, and has set the usual for the sport globally for nearly 4 a long time now.

Whereas the gamers are answerable for sustaining the tradition, the coach has a task, too. Will probably be Andonovski who must handle the egos and minutes of his gamers, all of whom could be each starters and stars on some other group on this planet. Will probably be Andonovski who must discover a type of play that most closely fits and maximizes the expertise of his gamers.

And it will likely be Andonovski who must work out how you can hold the remainder of the world at bay.

If there was something to be taken from the World Cup, it was that the extent of play around the globe has improved sooner than presumably anybody anticipated. Different international locations are pumping assets into their girls’s program and/or home leagues, and the hole between the People and everybody else will proceed to slender.

“I wouldn’t essentially say change, I might say evolve. The sport is evolving from World Cup to World Cup, but additionally from 12 months to 12 months,” Andonovski stated. “If we don’t observe these traits, all the opposite nationwide groups are going to catch as much as us.

“Additionally, I don’t need to observe among the traits … we need to be leaders in among the traits.”

In contrast to a lot of the earlier U.S. coaches, Andonovski doesn’t have worldwide teaching expertise. However the NWSL has made that much less of an element.

Born in North Macedonia, he performed in Europe earlier than coming to america in 2000 to play indoor soccer. He has coached within the NWSL since its inception, main FC Kansas Metropolis to titles in 2014 and 2015. He has coached Seattle’s Reign FC the previous two seasons, and this 12 months was named NWSL’s coach of the 12 months.

“(His groups) favored to have the ball, they’re very sound defensively and so they wish to assault creatively,” stated Kate Markgraf, the final supervisor of the U.S. girls’s group who headed up the teaching search.

Extra importantly, Andonovski is aware of the gamers he will probably be teaching in addition to these his groups will probably be going through. Requested how he’ll deal with the robust choices, significantly people who must be made as among the U.S. group’s greatest stars grow old, Andonovski stated his administration type has at all times been to be trustworthy, direct and concise. 

Present members of the nationwide group reportedly lobbied for his hiring, and it was telling that within the moments after he was employed, U.S. Soccer posted quotes praising him from Rapinoe and Allie Lengthy, who performed for him in Seattle, in addition to Becky Sauerbrunn, who performed for Andonovski in Kansas Metropolis. His hiring was accepted unanimously. 

“He’s the whole lot you’d need in a head coach,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro stated. “I can’t think about a extra good match for this group, at the moment.”

Andonovski must be. The Tokyo Olympics start in 9 months, and there’s no grace interval given to new coaches.

“I knew coming into it, this can be very vital to win the entire tournaments,” he stated.

In some other job, that might be hyperbole. In Andonovski’s new job, it’s the usual.

This text was republished with permission from the unique writer and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the unique writer, USA Right now. Comply with columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.


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