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Andonovski resigns: What's next for the US Women's National Team?

Vlatko Andonovski, the head coach of the US women’s national team since 2019, has resigned.

The United States women's national team had its eyes set on history this summer. Instead, it turned out to be a disastrous campaign for the Stars and Stripes, culminating in their earliest ever exit at a World Cup.

Following their defeat by Sweden on penalties in the last 16, there have been plenty of question marks surrounding the team's future, so what is next for the USWNT?

Andonovski resigns

Andonovski will no longer serve as head coach of USWNT, announced Thursday.

The 46-year-old led the USWNT into two major tournaments – the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and 2023 Women’s World Cup – and won neither. He won his first 16 games in charge and led the US to a SheBelieves Cup title, then finished with a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

For a nation that established itself as the team to beat in international women’s soccer over the past decade-plus, USWNT’s results under Andonovski were nowhere near the standard set by the teams that came before.

The US was seeking a World Cup three-peat in 2023, but underwhelming group stage performances pitted them against Group G winners Sweden in the last 16. At one point a penalty conversion away from reaching the quarterfinals, the US missed three of its last four spot kicks in the shootout, and was eliminated. 

The team scored just four goals in the tournament, three of which came against its opening match victory over Vietnam.

Twila Kilgore, an assistant coach for USWNT, will take over as interim head coach.

Ertz one of many set to hang up her boots

The performance in Australia and New Zealand will need dissecting, but the US also faces pressing issues when it comes to personnel with some key players no longer part of the equation.

It was already known that Megan Rapinoe, player of the tournament at the 2019 Women's World Cup, would be hanging up her boots after the 2023 World Cup.

But in the wake of the defeat to Sweden, veteran Julie Ertz also announced her international retirement after a tournament of filling in for injured captain Becky Sauerbrunn in the heart of defence.

Losing both of those key personalities will be a major blow for the USA but it does not stop there with this year's Women's World Cup likely to have been the last for star talent Alex Morgan and defender Kelley O'Hara as well.

One thing is for sure - when the US turn up at their next Women's World Cup in 2027, their starting lineup will have a significantly different look to it.

Younger generation coming through

It is not all doom and gloom for the USWNT though.

As it stands, not every National Women's Soccer League side has its own youth team and the division's absence of a homegrown player rule is also likely not doing the nation any favours.

But the squad, although aging, still features some promising players of the future.

Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle have some of their best years ahead of them in midfield, while Naomi Girma, 23, is a capable defender.

In attack, Portland Thorns ace Sophia Smith, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Vietnam, looks ready to take the baton from Morgan as the team's premier striker.

And despite their penalty loss to Sweden in the last 16, the USA dominated the match, winning the shot count 22-9 and leading the shots on target numbers 11-1.

That showed this is still a team that can perform at the highest level and, although their years of world domination could be behind them, the USWNT look merely down, not out.

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