Vlatko Andonovski, the only coach that FC Kansas City has known, has left to go coach the rival Seattle Reign. It is hard for fans to see him go but for his players it may be hardest of all. Many of the Blues have an intense loyalty to Andonovski.
Yael Averbuch was not an original member of FC Kansas City, she came to the Blues in 2015 and was a key part of helping them to their second straight NWSL championship. Because Averbuch is a veteran and experienced both playing for and against FC Kansas City, she has a view that not many others have of the team and Andonovski.
“I was not there from the beginning of the franchise,” Averbuch explained. “Vlatko came into this having not coached a women’s team, he was known as a men’s indoor coach and he was the coach in the league that everyone looked at as ‘hmmm, that’s interesting’.”
When the NWSL was founded Averbuch was playing in Europe but kept a close eye on the league. “I was playing overseas, but I heard really positive things about Kansas City and they all came down to the coaching. Not that there wasn’t positives about the club but that was always the highlight, the coaching and the brand of soccer that Vlatko implemented in Kansas City,” Averbuch said.
Andonovski was known for creating a family atmosphere with the team and coaching his team to play the beautiful game. Quality passes, good runs and tactics were all prized over shear athleticism or physical play. Many of his players have over the years credited Andonovski with helping them regain their love for the game.
“I’m so happy that I got to be part of it for a few years,” Averbuch stated. “It’s the culture he creates, he’s a teacher, he’s someone who loves the game and loves helping players get better. That is what we all want as players and it was an absolute treat to play for him. I think that everyone would agree that whoever stepped on a field for Vlatko in training or a game, it was an absolute pleasure to take the field with him.”
Averbuch could not say enough good things about playing for Andonovski, “Vlatko has made my experience as a professional incredibly enjoyable and valuable and I value that over almost anything else at this point in my career.”
The Blues defender didn’t think Andonovski’s positive influence was just reflected on FC Kansas City, but the league as a whole.
“Vlatko is one of the best parts of our league, not just FC Kansas City, he is a shining point in our league as a whole,” Averbuch stated.
“In a league that is trying to improve and you want to point out the quality of the league, Vlatko over the last five years has been a major piece of quality, always positive news, and making people feel good about their career path and decisions to be a professional soccer player. It says more about him than just his role in FC Kansas City, he such an important part of the NWSL as a whole.”
There have been rumors that some players may want to leave FC Kansas City now that Andonovski is gone. Averbuch would not address her future plans, the club picked up her option for next year but did acknowledge, “A lot of the players are very loyal to Vlatko.”
“I really do appreciate the club and the soccer community in Kansas City but Vlatko is the differentiating factor over any other team I have played for in this league,” Averbuch added.