FIFA Women's World Cup
U.S. Soccer confirms Vlatko Andonovski departure, names Twila Kilgore interim coach
FIFA Women's World Cup

U.S. Soccer confirms Vlatko Andonovski departure, names Twila Kilgore interim coach

Updated Aug. 17, 2023 4:27 p.m. ET

U.S. Soccer made official on Thursday what had been obvious since the women's national team delivered its worst World Cup performance ever this summer: the four-time champions will get a new leader.

"Vlatko Andonovski has stepped down from his position as head coach," the federation announced in a statement.

It's not a firing then — not technically, though sources told FOX Sports that the decision to part ways was mutual. Andonovski's contract was scheduled to expire later this year and certainly wouldn't have been renewed following an uninspiring four-year term that yielded just an Olympic bronze medal for a program that has won four golds in addition to those four World Cups — triumph in half the major competitions it's contested all-time.

USSF director Matt Crocker named Twila Kilgore as interim head coach until a permanent hire is made. Kilgore, who had served as an assistant under Andonovski since 2021, will be at the helm at least for the team's next two games, a pair of exhibitions matches at home against South Africa. The U.S. women will play friendlies in October and December, too.


"It's been the honor of my life to coach the talented, hard-working players of the USWNT for the past four years," Andonovski said in the press release. "I'm very optimistic for the future of this program, especially considering all the young players that got opportunities over the past few years who will no doubt be leaders and impact players moving forward. 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."

"All of us at U.S. Soccer thank Vlatko for his dedication to our women's national team over the past four years," 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."

The USWNT was eliminated from Australia-New Zealand 2023 on Aug. 6, when Sweden beat them on penalties following a scoreless draw. The two-time defending champs had never finished worse than third at any previous World Cup.

What's next for USWNT? | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Goals were hard to come by for Andonovski's side throughout the competition; after squandering a host of chances in a 3-0 World Cup-opening win against badly overmatched Vietnam, the U.S. managed just one goal in its final three games.

As part of his assessment of the USWNT following the tournament, Crocker is expected to conduct a wide-ranging search for a manager to lead the Americans' through the 2027 Women's World Cup — an event that could be held in the U.S. Crocker has little time to waste, though, with next summer's Olympics in Paris just 11 months away.

There will be no shortage of candidates to fill the high-profile position. "The U.S. women's national team is probably the top job in the world," Laura Harvey, who in 2019 was narrowly edged out by Andonovski for the post, said earlier this month. Harvey, coach of the NWSL's OL Reign, is likely to get strong consideration once again. Same for Australia coach Tony Gustavsson, who served as then-USWNT boss Jill Ellis's top assistant on the World Cup-winning 2015 and 2019 squads.

[Related: USWNT coaching candidates: 10 potential names to replace Vlatko Andonovski]

Whoever gets picked, the next coach will preside over a program badly in need of an overhaul. The 2023 USWNT was one caught between generations, with 2015 veterans such as Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe on one end and youngsters like Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith and Alyssa Thompson on the other. And as the ongoing World Cup Down under has shown, the competition at the top of international women's soccer has never been fiercer. Perennial title contenders Brazil, Canada and Germany were all bounced before the U.S., in the group stage. Sunday's final between England and Spain (coverage begins at 5 a.m. ET with kickoff at 6 a.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app) will crown a first-time titlist.

Despite missing several projected starters because of injury, the U.S. was clearly still talented enough to play better — much better — than they did this summer. That's ultimately why Andonovski is out.

"We are excited about the path that lies ahead," Crocker said. "We understand the challenges and have engaged with stakeholders from various corners of our sport – players, coaches, and other individuals within the soccer landscape. The insights and perspectives gathered during these discussions have been instrumental in shaping our forward-looking plan.

"Our commitment to excellence remains unshakeable," he said. "We believe this strategic plan will set the foundation for our women's national team to achieve greater heights in the years to come."

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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