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USWNT Oct 31, 2019

Vlatko Andonovski aced his job interview, says USWNT GM Kate Markgraf

By Quinn Casteel
SoccerWire Managing Editor

When Vlatko Andonovski reached the late stages of the interview process to become the next U.S. Women’s National Team head coach, he and the one other finalist were subjected to a surprise tactical analysis session, testing their capacity to break down a a game under pressure.

USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf detailed the hiring process during Monday’s introductory press conference, stating that Andonovski’s standout performance during the spontaneous tactical breakdown portion of the interview helped cement his place as U.S. Soccer’s top choice for the job.

That pop quiz, of sorts, came in addition to prepared presentations by Andonovski and the other candidate in Chicago, in front of Markgraf and U.S. Soccer’s technical committee. As the preferred choice of many current USWNT players, Andonovski had no shortage of recommendations and high level references behind him already, but according to Markgraf, the two-time National Women’s Soccer League Coach of the Year also delivered the goods when it came to on-the-fly X’s and O’s:

“The two finalists came to Chicago, they had to present a presentation based on a couple different questions, and we were able to assess, and give them scores based on the different domains that make a coach successful,” Markgraf said. “Some of those are technical and tactical questions, and some of those are managerial experience and success records. All of that was created to come up with an aggregate score, and from there it was how they presented in that room. How were they able to detail and inform us on what they know?”

“It was also from what we saw when we put them under the gun a little bit, and did a spontaneous, without them knowing, Q&A session tactically where we asked them to break down a game,” Markgraf continued. “From that meeting, in that technical committee, we selected Vlatko, and were unanimous in that decision.”

Following the final interview, Markgraf went on to receive unanimous support from U.S. Soccer’s Board on the decision to hire Andonovski. Ever since the news broke last week that Andonovski had been selected, public response from fans, media and players has been close to universally supportive as well. The positive reception has been somewhat in contrast to that of Jill Ellis early in her tenure, when she was subject to widespread criticism of her coaching decisions, before silencing the majority of her critics with back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup titles.

At age 43, Andonovski takes over as the 3rd-youngest head coach in USWNT history. The North Macedonia native joins U.S. Soccer after a successful run during the first 7 seasons of the NWSL, where he led FC Kansas City to two NWSL Championships (2014 and 2015), and most recently coached the Megan Rapinoe-led Reign FC.

“I’m proud to say that we selected the best candidate for the job,” Markgraf said. “[Andonovski] can develop players individually but also collectively evolve the style of play for this team and continue to set higher standards due to his excellent managerial experience, and his commitment to building a sustainable culture.”

Andonovski will begin the job immediately as he chooses a roster and preps for the USA’s final two games of 2019, against Sweden on Nov. 7 in Columbus, Ohio and Costa Rica on Nov. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla. His first major competition will come during the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament set to take place at the end of January and beginning of February next year.

See below for video from Andonovski’s introductory press conference featuring Markgraf, along with an initial sit-down interview with Andonovski:

U.S. Women's National Team General Manager Kate Markgraf discusses the hiring of new head coach Vlatko Andonovski🇺🇸 http://bit.ly/2olyiE2

Posted by Soccer Wire on Wednesday, October 30, 2019