Jeff Carlyle | ESPNReading: 4 min.
US women’s team coach Vlatko Andonovski said it would be “selfish” to think about his future after his team lost to Sweden at the World Cup.
The USA dominated the round of 16 game throughout the match and the Americans could have won the main game game if not for the heroism of Swedish goalkeeper Zechira Musovic. Instead, the match went goalless and went to a penalty shoot-out, which Sweden won 5–4, ending with Lina Hurtig’s winning penalty shot narrowly over the goal line, ending the USA’s run for a third title in a row.
“Now I only think about the players,” Andonowski said. “I see the players crying and it hurts and that’s all I can think about.”
This departure was the first time in history that the US team did not reach at least the semi-finals of the World Cup. Responding to a few additional questions about her tenure, Andonowski added: “I think it’s selfish to think about me, my future, what I’m going to do when we have 20-year-old players going through this moment.” I am experiencing this situation.
“I want to be close to them. I appreciate them. I appreciate them all. They are my players, but above all they are my friends. We spent four years together. They played their first games with me. They got their national team. is calling me. We’ve had hard times, good times. I don’t want to see them like this. That’s all I think about.”
Andonowski said that throughout his tenure as Team USA coach, he never focused on his personal situation or job security.
“I never went to this job, never went into the locker room with such an attitude and did nothing to save my job,” Andonowski said.
“I have always strived to do my job to the best of my ability to prepare this team for the challenges ahead and prepare them to represent our country in the best possible way. It was the only thing that was in the center of my attention. And that won’t change. Never changes. And I think that no matter what happens in the future, that’s how I approach it, whether it’s this job or any other.”
As for the long-term consequences of the loss, Andonowski promised that players would come back stronger after this experience.
“This group of players are clearly injured right now and it’s a difficult time,” she said. “This is a difficult time for them. This is a tough time for staff, a tough time for everyone. But at the same time, I know that they will use this moment as motivation and never experience the same thing again.”
Andonowski also defended his decision to use Megan Rapino in the shoot-out despite her problems on the pitch during the tournament.
“Meghan Rapino is a legend,” she said. “If my life was on the line right now and I had to choose who would take the penalty, my first choice would be Megan Rapinoe, number 1 in the world without a doubt.
“This is a football match. Sometimes the ball goes two inches to the left or two inches to the right and bounces against us. As for criticism, now is the time to criticize it. We heard about the criticism in the group stage, which was crazy for us. For someone to say how much they love this team, how much they love this country, and how much they love all the players, and then instead of cheering for them, they criticize them. Now is the time for criticism.