COLUMBUS, Ohio — Starting a new job is never easy, but it looked that way for Vlatko Andonovski as the new coach of the United States women’s national team — at least for a while. The U.S. dominated Sweden in the first of Andonovski’s debut match, but came under fire after the break, conceding twice and eroding a three-goal lead for a narrow 3-2 win.
For Andonovski, it’s one game under his belt that will go down as a win, and he’s taking the positives from it.
“I definitely did not want to see a 3-2 game after 3-0,” Andonovski said, “It was overall a good experience. I’m glad we handled it the way we did but, to be clear, I was not happy with those two goals.”
Captain Carli Lloyd led the U.S. attack by scoring a brace and notching an assist. She found the back of the net in the fifth minute with the assist from Christen Press. In the 28th minute, the two switched with Press scoring on an assist from Lloyd. In the 30th minute, Lloyd added another as she chipped Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
“The final message to Carli was about the movement I was hoping she would have, and hopefully we’ll score a goal,” Andonovski said. “I’m just glad she scored two.”
The Americans had a chance pile onto their lead late when Casey Short was fouled in the box, earning a penalty. Lloyd stepped up to take it, but the shot was high over the crossbar. Lloyd had a hat trick in her last international game at MAPFRE stadium against Thailand, but was denied her chance to do that again.
“I was happy with [Short’s] performance,” Andonovski said. “She started the attack for one of the goals, drew a penalty kick with a great interception, and defensively she was spot on.”
The Andonovski era of the U.S. women’s national team has barely just begun, and there will be time for the Macedonian coach to implement his tactical vision for the time. After all, Olympic qualifying will begin in January, and assuming all goes to plan, the Tokyo Olympics begin in just nine months. But for now, Andonovski is happy to lead the top-ranked U.S. to a win over No. 5-ranked Sweden.
“A win is a win,” Andonovski said. “I was excited for the team, and they were excited for me. The only thing we said in the huddle is we have to fix the two goals. People that know me know I’m not happy when I get scored on. We’re going to finish off strong.”