Vladko Antonovski, head coach of the United States women’s national soccer team, has resigned, three people with direct knowledge of the situation said Wednesday, ending a relatively tumultuous tenure in charge of what was once the world’s top team.
The U.S. Soccer Federation plans to announce Antonovski’s departure as coach Thursday, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move publicly.
Antonovski’s four-year contract was scheduled to expire at the end of the year. U.S. Soccer will hire an interim coach for two friendlies this fall, but hopes to hire a permanent coach by the end of the year to begin preparations for next summer’s Paris Olympics.
Antonovsky’s resignation was not unexpected. After winning the previous two tournaments, the U.S. was the underdog at this year’s Women’s World Cup. The team suffered its earliest exit in the tournament’s history after losing to rivals Sweden in a penalty shootout in the round of 16. The U.S. scored just four goals at the World Cup as it entered the tournament as one of the favorites, beating just one of its four opponents. Vietnam, and drawing with Netherlands and Portugal during the group stage.
Antonovski, 46, was a head coach in the National Women’s Soccer League for seven years before American Soccer. announced his appointment In October 2019, her predecessor Jill Ellis stepped down from the team after five years after the United States won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, making Ellis the first coach to win back-to-back Women’s World Cups.
Antonovski won his first 16 games in charge, including titles in the 2020 CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers and the Shebelieves Cup. The coronavirus pandemic struck six months into Antonovsky’s tenure, pushing the Tokyo Olympics back a year to 2021 and complicating his first two years on the job. When the Games came around, the United States entered as the favorite, but only won the bronze medal.
As the World Cup began, no team had won three titles in a row since the tournament’s inception in 1991 — and the United States’ ability to capture an elusive three-peat was immediately called into question. The Americans beat Vietnam in their opener, but by a relative 3-0 margin, nothing like the 13-0 win over Thailand that opened their 2019 title run. The Americans scored only once more as Lindsey Horan’s header tied the Netherlands 1-1.
A scoreless draw with Portugal was enough for the U.S. to advance, but it couldn’t win its group, prompting a need.hope” The social media campaign goes into the Round of 16 and has left the national team under fire of its own, with former players such as Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd expressing displeasure with the team’s style of play.
Antonovski has been criticized for his tactical decision-making, including his decisions on substitutions. Star players like Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz also played different roles than in the past with mixed results. Such amazing newcomers Ashley Sanchez and 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson rarely played.
In the end, a millimeter would have allowed Sweden to advance and stop the U.S. — and Antonovski — miles short of expectations.