Just in case you were ready to relax during the NWSL offseason, news has emerged pointing to a huge shakeup among the Seattle Reign FC coaching staff. As Richard Farley reports from FourFourTwo, Vlatko Andonovski is expected to be announced as the new head coach for Reign FC, with Laura Harvey set to take a position with U.S. Soccer.
While Harvey had a few stints as head coach of the U-23 women’s national team this year, there has been no confirmation about her specific position at this point.
#NWSL news: Vlatko Andonovski will be the next head coach of the Seattle Reign, with Laura Harvey moving to a role with U.S. Soccer. 1/— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) November 7, 2017
The news is expected to be officially announced in the next few days and was jumpstarted when The Blue Testament announced on Monday that FCKC and Andonovski were parting ways. According to The Blue Testament, “sources close to the situation report that FC Kansas City did not even offer to negotiate with Andonovski, leaving him no other choice but to move on to other opportunities.”
The 41-year-old leaves Kansas City with two NWSL titles, both times defeating the team he is expected to join. Sources indicate he was also in talks with the Houston Dash for the open head coach position there, where Andonovski would have had the resources of an MLS club at his disposal, but the pull to Seattle was more compelling.
As Richard Farley also notes, Reign FC has likely known about Harvey’s move since the end of the season and began interviewing coaches at that time. Harvey, a coach who became the defining figure of the club — more than any one player — found a pull back to the international level and couldn’t resist.
Official announcements to come over the next 24-36 hours. Both sides spent Monday informing players/staff of the move. 3/— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) November 7, 2017
So, what would Andonovski bring to Seattle? From the standpoint of the style of soccer fans can expect, it would be a virtually seamless transition. The FC Kansas City approach to the game was not dissimilar to the Reign — it focused on building play from the back and possession, rather than physicality and counter attacks that have become trademarks for other teams in the league.
Andonovski is also well-known for bringing out the best in his athletes, and in 2017 inspired a few players that were waived by previous teams become regular contributors, including Lo'eau LaBonta, Maegan Kelly, and Brittany Ratcliffe. With an increasing amount of young talent on the Reign FC squad, Andonovski has a real opportunity to build on Harvey’s legacy and create something truly special in Seattle.
After two seasons where the club just missed the playoffs, Seattle Reign FC is at a critical juncture. Is Andonovski the person who can shape a new path forward for the club and return the squad to its powerhouse status in the league? That remains to be seen. But he has proven in his time with the league that he is certainly capable of bringing home a trophy or two.
For Andonovski, a move to Seattle brings all sorts of new resources. FCKC went through an ownership change in early 2017 and struggled to draw in players, especially international talent. Bill Predmore and Laura Harvey, meanwhile, have attracted the likes of Jess Fishlock, Kim Little, Naho Kawasumi, and Rumi Utsugi, and have established a team and professional environment that most players in the NWSL are eager to be a part of. U.S. National Team players like Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo have expressed deep loyalty to their club team, a sentiment not expressed as intensely by other USWNT teammates.
A lot of questions will be raised and hopefully answered in the coming days, as more details emerge. For now, fans can only speculate and reflect on the legacy that Laura Harvey built and hope that continues to grow under Andonovski.