10 potential coach candidates if USWNT moves on from Vlatko Andonovski


Two days after the United States crashed out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup with a shocking round of 16 loss to Sweden, no announcement regarding coach Vlatko Andonovksi’s future has been made.

“As we always do after a major tournament, we will conduct a review to identify areas of improvement and determine our next steps,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement Monday. “As we look ahead, we embrace the hard work necessary to become champions again.”

Though nothing is official yet, that work isn’t expected to include Andonovski. Not after the 46-year-old oversaw the worst finish by the USWNT at a World Cup in the long and decorated history of the program, and not after the team struggled mightily to score goals both in Australia-New Zealand this summer and at the Tokyo Olympics two summers ago.

Time isn’t on the federation’s side. The Paris Olympics kick off less than a year from now. Who will the USSF turn to if and when they formally move on from Andonovski?

Here are 10 possible replacements, listed alphabetically:

Sonia Bompastor, 43, Lyon

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin is the standard-bearer in the women’s club game, with a squad that boasts a who’s who of elite players from across the globe – including USWNT co-captain Lindsey Horan. So its coach is obvious candidate for the planet’s highest-profile national team. Bompastor, who spent part of her playing career in the U.S., has been Lyon’s manager since being promoted from the team’s academy in 2021, winning two Ligue 1 titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2022. Her existing relationship with Horan, one of the USWNT’s key leaders, also can’t hurt.

‘World Cup NOW’ crew discusses the potential top 10 coaching candidates for the USWNT

‘World Cup NOW’ crew talked about their top 10 coaching candidates for the USWNT head coach vacancy after their early elimination.

Jill Ellis, 56, president, San Diego Wave

Ellis led the U.S. to back-to-back World Cup titles in 2015 and ’19, a feat just one other coach, women’s or men’s, has ever accomplished. She stepped away from the sideline after that and has shown little desire to return; Ellis has since been working with FIFA and as president of the NWSL’s San Diego Wave.

There is a sense that both she and U.S. Soccer aren’t interested in a reunion. But stranger things have happened, Ellis remains by far the most successful coach in USWNT history, and nobody knows the USWNT player pool better. Could she be tempted to return for a 2027 World Cup potentially hosted stateside?

[‘The kids are taking over’: Young stars provide a solid foundation for USWNT]

Tony Gustavsson, 49, Australia

Ellis’ top assistant for both of her World Cup wins, the Swede was instrumental to that success behind the scenes. He parlayed that experience into the head job with the 2023 World Cup co-hosts.

Australia’s results have been all over the map since Gustavsson signed on, including at this tournament; his tactics were heavily criticized after the Matildas lost to Nigeria in their second group match. His team is flying high now, though, with shutout wins over Canada and Denmark sending the Aussies into the quarterfinals riding a huge wave of momentum. Should they become the first nation to hoist the World Cup on home soil since the U.S. did it in 1999, he’d probably be the frontrunner.

 

Laura Harvey, 43, OL Reign  

Andonovski beat out former U.S. U-20 coach Harvey, barely, for the job four years ago. She might be the favorite now. Harvey recently signed a new contract to stay in Seattle and seems to prefer the day-to-day work of the club environment. But while the thought among USWNT insiders was that she’s not interested or available, Harvey appeared to leave the door open in comments she made less than 24 hours after the Americans’ ouster Down Under.

“The U.S. women’s national team is probably the top job in the world,” she said. “If my name is anywhere near it, that’s an honor. By first and foremost, my priority is the Reign.” 

Emma Hayes, 46, Chelsea  

A native of England like Harvey, Hayes is one of the most successful coaches in women’s club soccer. She got her first managerial job with the Long Island Lady Riders in the developmental W-League at age 24, and was named the circuit’s coach of the year in her second season.

She then led NCAA side Iona for four years, returned to London as an assistant with Arsenal, then spent three seasons at the helm of the NWSL Chicago Red Stars before heading back overseas to take over Chelsea in 2012 – later telling Chelsea TV that her coaching career had been “made in America.”

Under Hayes’ stewardship, the Blues have won each of the last four English titles.

Mark Parsons, 36, Washington Spirit

Perhaps the least likely choice among those listed here, Parsons’s background is intriguing nonetheless. Most notable is history working with young players, though he’s been a head coach at the highest level, too, leading the Netherlands from 2021 through last year’s European Championship.

That job didn’t end well for him, but it didn’t take long for the Spirit to rehire their former boss, who won five trophies in five seasons with the Portland Thorns and also was the NWSL’s coach of the year in 2016.

Hervé Renard, 54, France

Renard specializes in working with national teams, mostly on the men’s side. He’s the only coach to win the African Cup of Nations with two different countries (Ivory Coast and Zambia), qualified Morocco for the 2018 World Cup – the Atlas Lions’ first trip there in two decades – and last November led Saudi Arabia to a shocking upset of eventual champ Argentina at Qatar 2022.

He came to the Les Bleues‘ rescue in March, when a player mutiny forced the departure of longtime France boss Corinne Diacre, but is not expected to stay beyond this World Cup.

Casey Stoney, 41, San Diego Wave

Just five years removed from her playing days, Stoney already has a solid resume as a coach – even if she’s probably a longshot for the U.S. post. Hired by Ellis ahead of San Diego’s inaugural season in 2022, she led the Wave to a third-place finish during the regular season and took home NWSL coach of the year honors afterward.

Before moving to California, the former England national team great managed Manchester United for three seasons. She also spent four months as the player-manager of Chelsea as a 28-year-old in 2009.

[Alex Morgan, coming off a rough World Cup, looks to the future]

Pia Sundhage, 63, Brazil

One of the most influential figures in women’s soccer history could become available following Brazil’s shocking group stage exit at this World Cup. She previously led the USWNT from 2007-2012, winning two Olympic gold medals and a silver at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, which the U.S. lost to Japan on penalties. 

Sundhage took over her native Sweden after that, with a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Games to show for it. She also won the Copa América Femenina title with Brazil in 2022 and has been a finalist for FIFA’s coach of the year on five occasions, winning the award once.

Sarina Wiegman, 53, England

She’s the highest-paid coach in women’s soccer for a reason: the Dutch-born Wiegman is considered the best manager working in the game today. She has lost just one of her 27 major tournament matches all time, and her teams have won each of the last two European titles (the Netherlands in 2017, the Lionesses last summer).

She was a World Cup runner-up in between those continental triumphs, when the Oranje lost the 2019 final to the Americans in France. But she could claim the sport’s ultimate prize soon; England is currently the 2023 World Cup favorite.

Wiegman’s contract doesn’t expire until 2025. But if she’s at all interested in resurrecting the most successful women’s program ever – and if she ends up being USSF sporting director Matt Crocker’s top pick – the fed will be more than willing to break the bank for her.

What should the United States do with Vlatko Andonovski? | SOTU

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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