The United States women are entering a period of uncertainty not felt for quite some time — if ever.
U.S. Soccer have had to find a new USWNT coach in the past, replacing the likes of Jill Ellis and Pia Sundhage after positive spells during which trophies were won, but a search for a fired leader has not been conducted under these circumstances for some time.
With the disappointing round of 16 exit from the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the two-time defending FIFA champions have been forced to pick up the pieces of a failed four-year tenure under Vlatko Andonovski.
Matt Crocker will now lead the search for a new permanent head coach, which is expected to be completed in time for the December international window. In the meantime, assistant Twila Kilgore has been elevated to lead the team on an interim basis in a pair of September friendlies against South Africa, with two against Colombia to come in October.
#USWNT HC Twila Kilgore on what soccer is losing with Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe retiring:
“They’ve helped driven the game forward, but also off the field, they’ve both contributed to making sure that the whole soccer landscape is progressing forward, especially for women.” pic.twitter.com/wVjtd2gJYw
— Kamran Nia (@kamran_nia) September 12, 2023
Who is Twila Kilgore? USWNT assistant serving as interim head coach
43-year-old Twila Kilgore has taken over from Vlatko Andonovski as U.S. women’s national team head coach following the latter’s departure in the aftermath of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Kilgore’s playing days were brief, as she spent four years in the NCAA ranks as a midfielder for the Arizona Wildcats from 1998-2001. Her pro career did not stretch past a short stint with USL-W side Arizona Heatwave.
As a coach, Kilgore has been with the USWNT setup since 2019, when she was hired as the head coach of the U-20 team. Alongside her job with the federation, Kilgore held an assistant coaching role on the staff of NWSL side Houston Dash.
“My mom always just said, ‘if you have nothing to do — at a minimum, you’re sweeping the floor,'” Kilgore said to The Striker Texas in 2022 about holding two coaching roles simultaneously. “So I’m happy to do that if that’s what it takes — just whatever job is needed.”
During that time, Kilgore completed the USSF Pro License courses, becoming the third woman and first American-born woman to do so. She was promoted to an assistant role with the senior team in 2022, leaving her job with the Dash to take the new job full-time. On occasion, Kilgore briefly served as U-23 head coach while also performing her senior team duties.
Kilgore was with the U.S. at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and has been tabbed to lead the team after Andonovski’s departure, buying time for U.S. Soccer to search for a permanent replacement.
The @USWNT September Roster has ARRIVED ????????
Twila Kilgore has named a 27-player Training Camp Roster for the upcoming friendlies against South Africa! Who are you excited to see play the most? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/kcg2cyC41W
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 12, 2023
Why was Vlatko Andonovski fired as USWNT head coach?
Vlatko Andonovski resigned as USWNT head coach in the aftermath of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Entering that 2023 competition as two-time defending champions and pre-tournament favorites, the United States suffered bitter disappointment, suffering elimination in the Round of 16 for the first time in the nation’s FIFA World Cup history.
With Andonovski at the helm, the warning signs were blaring from the start of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, with a draw against the Netherlands serving as an early harbinger of their eventual exit. Each 90-minute performance was in and of itself disappointing, as they struggled to meet expectations and gain control of matches from start to finish.
Once their elimination was finalized, Andonovski’s status as head coach was untenable, and it was only a short time before his exit was confirmed. It marked the first time U.S. Soccer had fired a USWNT head coach following a Women’s World Cup since Greg Ryan’s contract was not renewed in the aftermath of the 2007 tournament, which saw the U.S. fall 4-0 to Brazil in the semifinals.