When Macedonian-born Vlatko Andonovski first came to play soccer for the Kansas City Comets in 2001, he was likely not expecting to be here very long. But in the 13 years since then he has made himself into one of the most successful soccer ambassadors in the city coaching two teams to championship games this year.
Andonovski, who played six years in Europe before coming to play in the United States, accepted his first head coaching job with FC Kansas City in the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League last year. After leading the Blues to the semifinals last season, he was also promoted to head coach of the Missouri Comets, who play in the Major Indoor Soccer League and are owned by the same group. He had been serving as an assistant coach with the team since 2010.
Andonovski brought home his first title in March with the Comets and now has the chance to complete the season sweep when FC Kansas City travels to Seattle to take on Reign FC at 2 p.m. Sunday in the NWSL Championship. The game will be shown on ESPN2.
“What kept me here is the love and the relationships that I have created with the community, the players and the teams,” Andonovski said. “I don’t think that I would go anywhere else if I had an opportunity now. I enjoy every second of it, and having a chance to battle for a second championship makes those ties even stronger.”
Although it is only the second season of the NWSL, Andonovski has already made FC Kansas City one of the most consistent teams. He was named 2013 NWSL Coach of the Year after the Blues finished the regular season tied for a league-best 11 victories before falling in the semifinals. Now, they enter the championship with the second best record with a 12-7-5 record which gives them the best two-year record in the league.
“Obviously he is doing something right,” Blues forward Lauren Holiday said. “The way he sees the game is a beautiful way to play soccer, and I think he did a great job assembling the team with the same kind of players. All the girls are very similar, and I think that is the vision he has.”
It also helps that Andonovski has been able to piece together several consistent national team players to suit up alongside Holiday. She is joined on the U.S. team by FCKC players Amy Rodriguez, Amy LePeilbet, Sarah Hagen and Becky Sauerbrunn, who was named 2014 NWSL Defender of the Year on Tuesday. Katrina Gorry and Nikki Phillips represent Australia and Poland respectively.
“I am just happy to be part of something that makes a history in Kansas City,” Andonovski said. “I have been blessed with two incredible groups with FCKC and the Comets that make my job easier.”
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FC Kansas City at Seattle Reign FC
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday