As first rumored this morning, Seattle Reign FC have now officially announced the departure of head coach and general manager Laura Harvey, who leaves the team after five years at the helm to pursue other opportunities. She will be replaced by former FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who has signed a two-year contract to serve as Reign FC head coach and executive director of Reign Academy.
The decision was brewing for some time, with discussion starting between Harvey and Reign FC co-owner Bill Predmore shortly after the season ended.
“When Bill and I sat down after the season to talk about the future, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted — but I knew the club needed a decision about my plans. Given my uncertainty it seemed best for all that I step away now to give the club a proper amount of time to hire my replacement,” said Harvey in a team press release. “I’m going to take a little bit of time to reflect and decide what the best next move is for me. I hope that an opportunity comes my way and I will decide if it is the right one. It’s been a tough decision to make but I feel like it’s the right one for me and for the club.”
Harvey leaves the club with a league-best record of 51 wins, 33 losses and 26 draws, including two NWSL shields and two NWSL Coach of the Year awards, but was stymied by Andonovski’s Blues squads in back-to-back NWSL Championship matches.
According to Predmore, Andonovski was the only person Harvey mentioned when suggesting potential successors, since his playing style and coaching philosophy match well with the vision Reign FC have cultivated. Said Predmore, “I have long admired how Vlatko works with his players, appreciated the grace, precision and resilience of how his teams play, and have long coveted the trophies he delivered as a result of his approach. I am confident he is the best person to build on Laura’s legacy and will help the club achieve its goal of winning an NWSL championship.”
Andonovski was out of contract in Kansas City, and was rumored to be in the running for several coaching positions in USL, as well as at the Houston Dash. However, he was ultimately won over by Predmore’s vision. “Bill and Laura have done a tremendous job building the organization, and every player and coach wants to be a part of it. I wasn’t initially sure if now was the right time or not, but after meeting with Bill, I felt this was different and something I wanted to be a part of. We have a very similar mindset, and our strengths complement each other. I think it will be a great partnership to take this organization to the next level.”
Many questions remain to be addressed as the team enters its first days without Laura Harvey at the helm and Andonovski starts to make his mark, but Harvey will remain with the Reign FC through the end of the year to support him as he transitions into his new role. “I have a massive amount of respect for all [Vlatko] accomplished in KC, know that he will work well with Bill and the technical staff, and believe he can get the most out of our squad. I wish him the best of luck with the team and will do all I can to support him as he takes on this challenge,” said Harvey.