USA’s new head coach is already a more admired figure than it appears Jill Ellis ever was.
Vlatko Andonovski, watching the NWSL Challenge Cup from the sidelines, gave fans a look into a new era. The 43-year-old succeeded Ellis as USWNT manager back in October.
He will spearhead the four-time world champions as they continue to dominate the footballing world.
Despite not leading his side in much action, Andonovski is already better respected than his predecessor.
Jill Ellis Controversy
Ellis is responsible for 50% of the USWNT’s World Cup success. The long-time serving coach led USA to back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2019. Although, players have a different angle to this impressive statistic.
Speaking on The Crack Podcast last summer, Sydney Leroux had very few positive memories from Ellis’ tenure.Embed from Getty Images
The England-born coach is well-received as an individual, but has had her managerial methods questioned. Whilst Ellis bulks her CV with her World Cup success, Leroux argues the team could have still won ‘in spite’ of her influence.
Reflecting on her involvement in the 2015 title, the forward said: “In 2015 – maybe the same thing in 2019 – I don’t know, but I think people, and I, can say that we won in spite of her.”
Leroux also slammed Ellis’ attitude towards the birth of her son, Cassius, after looking to return to international duty. The 53-year-old claimed the now mum-of-two had a ‘bad 2016’, despite not playing a single game due to pregnancy.
The Orlando Pride star claimed this left a ‘bad taste in my mouth’ moving forward.
Fellow Orlando ace Ali Krieger also had a somewhat bitter experience with Ellis. The defender was left off the USWNT roster for two years under the former manager.Embed from Getty Images
Although frustrating, Krieger admitted on Kevin Egan’s Kickin’ Off that she took ‘the high road’ over the situation once she was eventually welcomed back to the squad.
The Vlatko Era
Andonovski has taken the reins from the country’s most successful head coach. Although he has big shoes to fill in terms of silverware, he has already commanded the respect of the players.
It could be argued that his time in charge of Kansas City and OL Reign laid the foundations of these strong relationships. Andonovski has already worked with the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Allie Long.
Ellis’ successful tenure was marred by criticism, which ultimately led to her resignation.Embed from Getty Images
“She’s not good for people’s mental health, that’s for sure,” Leroux stated. “The best thing was for her to go.”
Vlatko will be at the helm of the USWNT next year as they challenge in the postponed Tokyo Olympics. Supporters will hope their new coach can make it their fifth year of scooping up a gold medal.
“I think Vlatko is going to do an amazing job,” predicted Leroux. “He’s a great coach.
“He’s a good person. So I’m excited to see what he does with the national team.”