As Vlatko Andonovski prepares for a playoff run with Reign FC in the NWSL playoffs, his name is being dropped for another big role, as the eventual successor to Jill Ellis as the United States women’s national team head coach. For now, though, Andonovski is issuing a denial of sorts.
“As of right now, none of that is true,” he said in a conference call Tuesday ahead of the Reign’s semifinal against the North Carolina Courage.
Since Ellis announced her departure weeks after the U.S. won its fourth World Cup, Andonovski had been regarded as a possible choice for the team’s next coach. The talk intensified Monday, when BBC’s Jo Currie reported that Andonovski will be named the next national team coach.
U.S. Soccer will have to name a new USWNT coach soon, with the Olympic Games in Tokyo ten months away. Andonovski’s experience in the NWSL would mean he has familiarity with the U.S. player pool, but the Reign coach has no experience at the international level.
Andonovski said that his sole focus, for now, is on his current job as the Reign’s coach and the team’s upcoming playoff match. The talk of the USWNT job has not affected his preparation, he added.
“It hasn’t been any distraction to me,” Andonovski said of the report. “[The match is] the only thing that I’m focused on right now. I want to do best for the team, for myself, for the organization and for all the Reign FC fans.”
While he had little more to add, his next opponent Paul Riley endorsed Andonovski. Riley, the coach of the reigning champion North Carolina Courage, himself announced in August he was not interested in the USWNT role, but touted his colleague as a good fit for the job.
“He’s a breath of fresh air in the league, I think,” Riley said in the same conference call. “He’s quick tactically, just a super guy. … I think he’d be a terrific new coach of the national team. He’s got everything, I think, that you need.”
The USWNT takes the field next on Nov. 7 in a friendly against Sweden. U.S. Soccer has not named an interim coach, which signals a new coach — whether it’s Andonovski or not — will likely be in place by then.